Salford office worker Kristina Wall was sceptical when doctors suggested physiotherapy might help her manage her severe asthma.
Kristina worked one-on-one with a physiotherapist to practise breathing techniques to get the best from an inhaler [Stock picture]
But 18 months after working with a specialist respiratory physiotherapist, the 23-year-old has returned to work, delights in practising yoga and can “take a flight of stairs without keeling over”.
“I’d never heard of it before then,” Ms Wall said, of the specialised field that helps thousands of patients annually.
Ms Wall said her childhood asthma was “nothing out of the ordinary” until she turned 14.
“Then it just got worse,” she said.
“I couldn’t walk up and down stairs. It was horrible.”
Triggers included leaving a warm room on a cold day, aerosol sprays, common cleaning products, hair dye and air-conditioning, she said.
Asthma causes the muscles around a person’s airways to tighten, narrowing and inflaming the small tubes that carry air into the lungs, making it hard to breathe.
Severe attacks hospitalised the Manchester resident.
Ms Wall said a secondary condition which affects her ribcage made it painful to breathe and forced her to give up full-time work when she left Wales in 2008.
“The move and the pollution made it (asthma) worse,” she said.
She sought help from Salford Royal Hospital’s asthma clinic and worked one-on-one with a physiotherapist to practise breathing techniques to get the best from an inhaler.
“They were basically teaching me how to breathe, how not to panic, how not to hold my chest and crunch up into a ball,” she said.
“I’ve been able to make sure that I’m breathing the correct way - if my heart rate starts to speed up I know how to slow it down.”
Ms Wall said being aware of her heart rate also alerted her to changing blood pressure - an early warning sign.
During three subsequent severe attacks these skills were invaluable to keep calm, she said.
Now Ms Wall is educating workplace first-aiders not to panic in an emergency when helping someone with asthma or epilepsy.
“Lack of knowledge can kill a person at work,” she said.
For more information about asthma, including what to do in an emergency visit www.asthma.org.uk/knowledge-basics
Asthma UK’s mission is to stop asthma attacks and cure asthma, we do this by funding working leading research, campaigning for improving care, and supporting people to reduce their risk of a potentially life-threatening asthma attack. To speak to one of its specialist asthma nurses about your asthma, call Asthma UK’s helpline on 0800 121 62 44.