Bronchial Asthma: Causes and Treatment
Bronchial asthma (definition) is a chronic health disorder that involves:
- Bronchoconstriciton or bronchospasm (narrowing of airways)
- Inflammation of airways
- Increased sensitivity of the immune system to triggers (dust mites, pollen, smoke, etc.)
- Excessive production of mucus in airways.
Cause of bronchial asthma
People with bronchial asthma are chronic hyperventilators.
Table. Minute ventilation (asthma)
| All references or
click below for abstracts
|Normal breathing||6 L/min||-||Medical textbooks|
|Healthy Subjects||6-7 L/min||>400||Results of 14 studies|
|Asthma||13 (+-2) L/min||16||Chalupa et al, 2004|
|Asthma||15 L/min||8||Johnson et al, 1995|
|Asthma||14 (+-6) L/min||39||Bowler et al, 1998|
|Asthma||13 (+-4) L/min||17||Kassabian et al, 1982|
|Asthma||12 L/min||101||McFadden & Lyons, 1968|
Note that advanced stages of asthma can lead to lung destruction, ventilation-perfusion mismatch,
and arterial hypercapnia causing further reduction in body oxygen levels.
Chronic hyperventilation causes reduced CO2 levels in alveoli and airways of the lungs.
Low CO2 causes spasm of airways
Since CO2 is a powerful relaxant of smooth muscles, alveolar hypocapnia also causes spasm of airways or bronchoconstriction (Sterling, 1968). Dr. Herxheimer was the first clinical physician who suggested that hypocapnia or low CO2 was the cause of asthma (Herxheimer, 1946 and 1952) in his articles "Hyperventilation asthma" and "The late bronchial reaction in induced asthma".
Low CO2 causes cell hypoxia and allergies
Since CO2 is a potent vasodilator, reduced CO2 levels in the blood causes cell hypoxia leading to the suppressed and distorted reactions of the immune system. This creates the foundation for appearance of allergies and inflammation in airways with production of excessive mucus. Additional damage often takes place due to incorrect exercise leading to sports induced asthma.
With prolonged hyperventilation and inflammation, some people develop severe asthma due to destruction of their lungs and ventilation-perfursion mismatch. This further reduces body oxygenation and makes symptoms of asthma worse.
Treatment of bronchial asthma
Coughing and acute asthma web pages:
- Asthma treatment
- Clinical effects of the Buteyko breathing technique on asthma in bronchi.
Sterling GM, The mechanism of bronchoconstriction due to hypocapnia in man, Clinical Science 1968 Apr; 34(2): p. 277-285.
Herxheimer H, Hyperventilation asthma, Lancet 1946, 6385: p. 83-87.
Herxheimer H, The late bronchial reaction in induced bronchial asthma, Internal Archives of Allergy and Applied Immunology 1952; 3: p. 323-328.
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