Breathing programmes delivered by physios can help reduce asthma symptoms, says national guideline

Physiotherapy-led breathing exercise programmes can be used alongside drug treatments to improve the quality of life for adults with asthma.

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Respiratory physio Sonia Munde is head of Asthma UK’s helpline and the charity’s nurse manager 

This is according to a revised national clinical guideline from the British Thoracic Society and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network.

The guideline provides evidence-based recommendations for best practice in the management of asthma.

Breathing programmes delivered by physios, such as the Papworth method and the Buteyko method are cited as beneficial examples.

In these methods a trained physio teaches exercises which help to reduce respiratory rate, minute volume and promote nasal, diaphragmatic breathing.

Trials of programmes that included more than five hours of intervention appeared more likely to be effective, the guideline says.

Respiratory physiotherapist Sonia Munde is head of Asthma UK’s helpline and was part of a steering group that developed the guideline.

She said: ‘Certain breathing techniques may help to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life for some people with asthma.

‘However, it is important that anyone using these techniques continues to take their medicines as prescribed and that they always check with their GP or asthma nurse before attempting to use breathing exercises to help manage their asthma.’

The document advises that there is currently insufficient evidence about the potential benefits of other breathing exercise methods. These include yoga breathing techniques and inspiratory muscle training.

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by Robert Millett

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