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Breathing Exercises To Reduce Asthma Attacks

Medically reviewed by Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD · General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas

Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao · Updated Feb 19, 2021

Breathing Exercises To Reduce Asthma Attacks

Those with this condition can benefit from knowing breathing techniques for asthma attacks. 

An asthma attack is the sudden aggravation of asthmatic symptoms. During an asthma attack, the airways swell and become inflamed, resulting in excessive production of mucus. This can hinder the supply of oxygen to vital parts of the body.

You may be having an asthma attack if you experience these symptoms:

  • Breathlessness
  • Excessive coughing
  • Severe wheezing 
  • Experiencing pressure on chest muscles and neck
  • Too breathless to speak, eat, or sleep
  • Having panic attacks or anxiety
  • Pale, sweaty face
  • Blue lips or fingernails
  • Worsening symptoms despite the use of medication

Asthma is a common long-term lung disease that causes breathing difficulties. It is characterized by narrowing of the airways in the lungs. This constricts the flow of oxygen in the airways.

breathing techniques for asthma attacks

Signs and Symptoms of Asthma

An estimated 300 million individuals suffer from this ailment worldwide. Medical experts have recommended that patients try breathing exercises to improve asthma attacks.

A person with asthma may experience:

  • Tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Breathlessness
  • Coughing
  • Increased mucus production

If these symptoms occur and worsen, you may be suffering from an asthma attack.

A person suffering from asthma attacks may have to head to the nearest hospital for medical assistance. 

However, there are numerous breathing techniques for asthma attacks. These can also be done safely at home.

Breathing techniques for Asthma Attacks

Due to breathlessness, people with asthma tend to breathe more quickly compared to people without asthma.

People with asthma tend to breathe through their mouths to compensate for the amount of oxygen they need.

However, doctors say that breathing through the mouth carries a higher risk of triggering an asthma attack. This is because cooler and drier air can irritate the airways and cause inflammation. 

A person suffering from asthma may be prescribed preventive medicines like medicated inhalers to open up their airways. If one wants to lessen the use of medications, there are breathing exercises to improve asthma attacks. 

Recent studies have shown that breathing exercises significantly improve the quality of life of asthma patients

Here are six breathing techniques for asthma attacks.

Diaphragmatic breathing

This is the easiest technique that can help you relearn how to use your diaphragm. Normally, people use their chest when breathing. This exercise slows your breathing and can regulate blood flow. 

To do this, simply lie on your back with your knees bent, or sit straight in a chair. Place one hand on top of your chest and the other on your abdomen. Focus on breathing. It is preferred to breathe through your nose.

When you inhale, the hand on your stomach should move, while the hand on your chest is still. When you exhale, breathe slowly through your mouth, while slightly closed.

Nasal breathing 

When you breathe through your nose it decreases the chance of having an asthma attack, because the air you inhale passes through the nasal mucosa. It prevents allergens from entering your lungs, thus reducing the risk.  When you breathe through your mouth, nothing filters the air that goes into your lungs.

Natural Techniques to Cleanse The Lungs

The Papworth Method

The Papworth method is quite similar to diaphragmatic breathing and the Buteyko method. This technique results in gentler and more relaxed breathing from the diaphragm, through the nose. It is more effective when combined with asthma medications, and may also reduce the need for it if practiced daily. 

Buteyko breathing

In 1952, the Buteyko Breathing exercise was developed by Ukrainian Dr. Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko. The ButeykoBreathing technique is geared towards helping asthmatics who have trouble breathing at a slow pace. 

The technique, when performed properly, helps decrease the number and severity of asthma attacks. It can also help reduce the dosage of medication needed.

This technique requires an individual to breathe in and out through the nose, slowly and deeply, while focusing on using the diaphragm. To check whether the method is working or not, a special breath-hold test called the Control Pause can be done. 

Pursed lip breathing

This is a commonly used exercise when a person is experiencing an asthma attack. Pursed lip breathing releases air trapped in your lungs to relieve shortness of breath. 

To do this, you need to breathe through your nose for 2 counts. Purse your lips, like you’re about to whistle. Slowly exhale through your lips, 2 counts longer than when inhaling. Repeat the process until your breathing pattern regulates. 

Yoga breathing

Based on a study, asthmatic patients who practice yoga experience fewer asthma attacks during the day and night. This method has also allowed some patients to reduce their medication.  Always consult your doctor regarding changes in your medication. 

Through the combination of physical movements and deep breathing, yoga may help improve a person’s overall lung health.

Key Takeaways

The different breathing exercises to improve asthma attacks may be helpful to those suffering asthma.

Practicing these techniques regularly can help you manage your asthma attacks and decrease the chances of it developing into something more severe.

This may also help in lessening the use of inhaled medications. However, these exercises may not fully restore your total respiratory health.

Make sure that when doing these exercises, your medications are on hand in case of emergencies. It is important to consult your doctor before trying out any of these exercises to ensure your safety.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD

General Surgery · The Medical City Ortigas

Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao · Updated Feb 19, 2021

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