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A new breathing technique can improve symptoms in patients with asthma and reduce the need to use a bronchodilator.The Buteyko technique, developed in Russia, involves a reduction in the rate and depth of breathing and is based on the belief that asthma is caused by hyperventilation and a high level of carbon dioxide in the blood.
In an article published in Thorax (August 1, 2003), UK researchers said that the system is used worldwide and has sparked patient interest in the United Kingdom. For the study, 90 asthmatics were randomly assigned to use the Buteyko technique or a device that copied the breath restriction used in a yoga breathing technique or a placebo device that offered no resistance to breathing.
Patients using the Buteyko technique were given five 2-hour training sessions and were told to employ the technique 2 times a day. Also, they were instructed to use adhesive tape to avoid mouth breathing when asleep, to avoid stress, and to avoid certain foods. Of the 69 patients who completed the 6-month study, symptom scores fell by an average of 3 in the Buteyko group, compared with 1 in the yoga group and 0 in the placebo group. Furthermore, Buteyko patients were able to reduce bronchodilator use by 2 puffs a day. There was no change seen in the other 2 groups.