Muscly Airways

People with asthma have up to seven times more smooth muscle tissue wrapped around their airways. This means that the muscles are much stronger and thicker, so when they squeeze or spasm, the asthmatic really knows about it. Muscles generally get stronger and bigger when they are exercised, so why would an asthmatic's smooth muscles get so much exercise that they bulk up in this way?

We have a completely different composition of gases in our air sacs or alveoli than is found in the air around us. In the air sacs, 14% of the air in oxygen and 6% is carbon dioxide. In the atmosphere oxygen is 21% and carbon dioxide is 0.03%. The reason that we have less oxygen and more carbon dioxide in the alveoli than in the air around us is because this is what the body needs. If we had the room air composition in our lungs, we would be dead.

It is no secret that people with asthma breathe far too much air when they do not have asthma symptoms, and it increases dramatically when the symptoms kick in. This was proven beyond doubt in the 1960s by a study conducted by McFadden and Lyon, and repeated over and over since then.

If you have asthma, you will realize the truth in this because you almost never get asthma just sitting in a chair breathing quietly through your nose, instead it happens when you are laughing, running or rushing. Next time you get symptoms, notice that the more you breathe, the more breathless you feel?

When you breathe too much air, you begin washing out the essential carbon dioxide, and because there is such a small amount in the atmosphere, you can't just breathe it in again, but instead your cells have to make more of it. When the carbon dioxide in the air sacs begins to drop, the smooth muscles start to squeeze, narrowing the airways to retain gas levels. If you regularly use bronchodilators, this over-rides the natural process to retain normal volumes of carbon dioxide, so when the drugs wear off, the muscles get a work out trying to preserve carbon dioxide.

The take on asthma from a conventional approach is:

Triggers lead to airway narrowing, which is called asthma, and this leads to hyperventilation.
Because of his research, which is backed up be McFadden and Lyon, Dr Konstantin Buteyko said that
Triggers lead to hyperventilation and this leads to airway narrowing, or asthma.

To compound the problem, bronchodilating medications actually compound hyperventilation because they are adrenaline-based. The more you breathe, the more carbon dioxide you wash out of your lungs, and the more your airways narrow. When you look at asthma from this point of view, you can see why the need for additional asthma medications increases over a period of time.

This is not advice for you to stop using bronchodilators, but instead a recommendation that you change your breathing pattern back to normal, so that the carbon dioxide levels stay in the normal range when you do not have symptoms. By short-circuiting the excessive breathing by using Buteyko Breathing Techniques, you start to quickly reduce acute/current symptoms in the short-term. By continuing on with the programme you actually change the automatic way you breathe, bringing it closer to that of a normal breathing pattern, and the airways gradually become less inflamed because of the better breathing, so they start to heal.