Bronchospasm: Definition, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
(definition) is defined as constriction of bronchi and
bronchioles. It can generally happen due to 3 factors:
- a spasm in the smooth muscles of bronchi and bronchioles
- an inflammation of the airways
- excessive production of sputum (mucus) due to an allergic reaction or possible
irritation caused by mechanical friction of air (due to shear stress),
overcooling or drying of airways (i.e., during exercise induced asthma).
Bronchospasm is a normal physiological
reaction to alveolar hyperventilation (Badier et al, 1998; Clarke et al,
1982; Jamison et al, 1987; O'Cain et al, 1979;
Sterling, 1968), as you can see from the titles of these articles (see below). Do
people with bronchitis, asthma, and other conditions suffer
from alveolar hypocapnia (CO2 deficiency in airways)?
What is known about minute ventilation in people with bronchospasm?
Ventilation rates (chronic diseases)
| All references or
click below for abstracts
|| Medical textbooks
|| Results of 14 studies
||13 (+-2) L/min
|| Chalupa et al, 2004
|| Johnson et al, 1995
||14 (+-6) L/min
|| Bowler et al, 1998
||13 (+-4) L/min
|| Kassabian et al, 1982
|| McFadden, Lyons, 1968
||14 (+-2) L/min
|| Palange et al, 2001
||12 (+-2) L/min
|| Sinderby et al, 2001
|| Stulbarg et al, 2001
Fauroux et al, 2006
Browning et al, 1990
Ward et al, 1999
|CF and diabetes*
Ward et al, 1999
Dodd et al, 2006
McKone et al, 2005
||13 (+-2) L/min
|| Bell et al, 1996
|| Tepper et al, 1983
Bronchospasm can be induced by many chemicals that can cause either bronchospasm or
bronchodilation, but CO2 plays the key role due to two factors: its vasodilatory
potency (see links with medical studies below) and additional negative
effects caused by alveolar hypocapnia (lack of CO2), as the Table above proves.
What else influences bronchospasm?
Chronic hyperventilation (breathing more air than the medical norm) also leads
to cell hypoxia and immunosuppression regardless of ventilation-perfusion ratio
and arterial CO2 levels (it can get too high for many lung pathologies). As a
result of alveolar hyperventilation, there are additional effects, such as
respiratory infections, excessive production of sputum (mucus) and chronic
Allergic triggers (dust, pollen, and many others) cause additional problems due
to the hypersensitive immune system caused by systemic body hypoxia. All these
factors narrow airways and worsen their conductivity, triggering bronchospasm.
Symptoms of Bronchospasm
Bronchospasm symptoms include
difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, and dyspnea (shortness of breath).
Increased respiratory ventilation drastically amplifies
the effects of bronchospasm.
Causes and mechanism of Bronchospasm
Bronchospasm mechanism follows from the above Table,
which shows that these groups of people are heavy breathers. They all have low
CO2 levels in their lungs. As a result of low alveolar CO2, they also have low body-oxygen levels due to effects of alveolar hypocapnia,
either destroys lungs (causing arterial hypercapnia and hypoxemia as for people
with COPD) or causes arterial hypocapnia with reduced oxygen transport,
as an additional factor that is present during bronchospasm.
Bronchospasm, therefore, due to its effects on oxygen transport, leads to low oxygen levels in
tissues and favors chronic inflammation (see links below). As a result, people with
lung conditions (asthma, bronchitis, bronchiestasis, bronchiolitis, cystic fibrosis,
tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, and many others), experience chronic bronchospasm in
the smooth muscles of airways due to chronic alveolar hypocapnia.
This YouTube video explains
the cause of bronchospasm.
Surgery of the throat or anesthesia can also be among some rare
Treatment of Bronchospasm
Bronchospasm can be
successfully treated, as over
180 Russian medical doctors, found. The effective way to deal with Bronchospasm
is the Buteyko breathing medical therapy that is approved by the Russian
Ministry of Health. It has been applied on more than 200,000 people with health
problems (such as asthma, bronchiestasis,
bronchiolitis, bronchitis, COPD, and many others) that involve bronchospasm.
Bronchospasm cure (clinical remission), according to these Russian medical doctors, as well as my experience with 100s of my breathing students, has simple
criterion and goals for a person to achieve.
with nose breathing is a very beneficial lifestyle factor that assists
breathing retraining and gradual increase in body oxygen stores. Nose
breathing at exercise prevents exercise-induced asthma and bronchospasm.
Bronchospasm symptoms can be effectively eliminated with breathing exercises
that involve those breathing devices that trap exhaled CO2 (such as the Amazing DIY
breathing device, Frolov breathing device, and Samozdrav). These devices help
to increase body-oxygen
levels and reduce bronchospasm in a matter of minutes. However, up to 2-4 weeks
are often necessary in order to significantly change automatic or basal
breathing patterns. Any bronchospasm treatment must also address lifestyle changes (prevention
of supine sleep, prevention of mouth breathing, and so forth). The best
lifestyle program can be found in the Buteyko technique. Oxygen Remedy online webinars is likely the easiest
way to achieve clinical remission in relation to bronchospasm.
* Upper left illustration by Victor Lunn-Rockliffe
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