COMMENTARY

What Type of 'Breathing Retraining' Is Best for Uncontrolled Asthma?

Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH

Disclosures

January 19, 2018

Hello. I'm Dr Arefa Cassoobhoy, a practicing internist, Medscape advisor, and senior medical director for WebMD. Welcome to Morning Report, our 1-minute news story for primary care.

In patients with asthma, breathing exercises are known to help. But training patients in breathing techniques takes time and expertise, so it's not often utilized to manage uncontrolled asthma.

A recent trial[1] compared two methods of breathing retraining: self-taught, using a video; or three face-to-face sessions with a respiratory therapist. The training focused on diaphragmatic breathing, nasal breathing, and slow breathing, as well as controlled breath holds and simple relaxation exercises.

Compared with usual care, both methods of breathing retraining improved asthma-related quality of life. Although the interventions didn't change measures of airway inflammation or obstruction, patients reported increased control over breathing and reduced need for medication. They also felt more relaxed.

So, for your patients struggling with their asthma, consider adding breathing retraining to their treatment. Even patients who don't have easy access to respiratory therapists can benefit from the self-taught video training. It's a simple, low-cost option.

Follow Dr Cassoobhoy on Twitter at @ArefaMD

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