Asthma Causes, Signs, Symptoms: Coughing, Wheezing, Chest Pain
All available medical evidence suggest that you can have
bronchial asthma only if
your breathing is too heavy. You cannot have asthma, if you breathe in
accordance with medical norms. Therefore, in order to solve problems with asthma and bronchial asthma symptoms, one
needs to learn how to breathe correctly.
Symptoms and signs of bronchial asthma
Classic bronchial asthma symptoms and signs
(narrowing of airways: bronchi and bronchioles) - caused by CO2
* Inflammation of airways (caused by cell hypoxia produced by
hyperventilation, see CO2: Inflammatory Response)
* Increased sensitivity of the immune system to innocent triggers (dust mites,
airborne protein from cats and dogs, pollen, and so forth)
* Excessive production of mucus in airways
Early warning signs
breathing, both during days and night sleep
Increased night-time cough
Increased sleeping on one's back
Restless sleep or waking up tired
Worsening allergy symptoms like runny nose
Cough or wheezing with physical activity
Tiredness with activities that you normally could complete easily
Symptoms of mild bronchial asthma
Chronic cough, especially at night
Shortness of breath
Increased mucus production, especially in the morning
Chest tightness, pain, or discomfort
Increased difficulty completing your normal activities
Further development of bronchial asthma
You can hear yourself wheezing
Experience a cough that just won't go away (day or night)
Have more trouble falling asleep and getting a good nights rest
Increased heart rate (over 80 beats/min)
Have PEFRs (peak expiratory flow rate) well into the yellow zone
Get less relief from your 'quick relief' medications
Signs of a possible emergency
(life-threatening bronchial asthma attack)
Severe wheezing while breathing both
in and out
Breathing very fast
Getting short of breath while or having difficulty talking
A feeling of impending doom or panic
Inability to perform PEFR
Color changes in fingertips
Breathing and causes of asthma
How much do asthmatics breathe?
All available medical research suggests that asthmatics are chronic
hyperventilators. Let us review these studies since they explain the key cause of asthma. You can
click on the graph to see all references and follow the links to read
abstracts of all these 5 studies.
Table. Minute ventilation (asthma)
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. For more details, see causes of asthma.
Can low CO2 levels lead to problems with airways?
"The mechanism of bronchoconstriction due to hypocapnia in man"
(“hypocapnia” means abnormally low CO2 concentrations) was the title of
the article published in 1968 by Clinical Science Journal. In this
article, Dr. Sterling suggested that CO2 deficiency creates an
over-excited state of the cholinergic nerve. Since this nerve is
responsible for work of the smooth muscles in bronchi, its excitement
leads to constriction of bronchi and smaller air passages (bronchioles). This
causes wheezing, coughing, and high heart rate in people with
production makes these symptoms worse.
One modern physiology textbook claims, “Agents that tend to dilate
human airways include increased PaCO2 (hypoventilation or inspired
CO2),” (p. 545; Straub, 1998). This textbook directly asserts that
reduced breathing (or hypoventilation) or increased CO2 in the inspired
air will dilate airways. Moreover, CO2 is suggested as the most potent
natural chemical substance that promotes this "breathing-easy" effect.
Soviet MD and PhD KP Buteyko suggested that asthma is caused by
alveolar hyperventilation in the 1950’s (his first medical article
about this effect was published in 1964). He observed and discovered
the central role of breathing too much in the progress and degree of
asthma (Buteyko, 1964). He and his medical colleagues also found that
asthmatics can get quick alternative drug-free relief from asthma
attack symptoms, if they practiced shallow or reduced breathing.
Dr. Herxheimer independently suggested that hypocapnia or low CO2
was the cause of bronchial asthma in 1946 (Herxheimer, 1946) and 1952
(Herxheimer, 1952) in his articles "Hyperventilation asthma" and "The
late bronchial reaction in induced asthma".
Allergies and bronchial asthma
How do asthma and asthma attacks develop?
Low CO2 values in the bronchi cause chronic constriction of airways
(that happens in all people). In addition to this direct effect,
chronic hyperventilation makes immune reactions abnormal. The immune
system becomes too sensitive in relation to intruders from outside
(coming with air or food), but weakens the responses to various
pathogens, like viruses and bacteria. (That makes sense since
hyperventilation is a defensive reaction and a part of the
fight-or-flight response. Hyperventilation then should mean a state of
increased alertness and emergency for the whole organism, the immune
The immune system becomes hypersensitive and seemingly innocent
events like breathing cold air or inhaling dust particles can trigger
an inflammatory response in asthmatics, excessive production of mucus,
a sense of anxiety or panic, more hyperventilation, and further
constrictions of airways.
Similar effects take place during physical exercise causing sports induced asthma.
As a result, mucus makes air passages narrower (or even blocks some
of them) creating a feeling of suffocation and causing asthma attacks.
During an attack, an asthmatic may try to clear the mucus by coughing
it out, but that further reduces CO2 concentrations in the lungs and
makes air passages narrower. The smart solution to these problems is to do the
This YouTube video (on the right side) provides an overview of problems related
Prevention and alternative natural therapy for bronchial asthma
Clinical trials of the Buteyko method for bronchial asthma
were the main outcomes of randomized controlled trials of the
Buteyko breath therapy in western countries? There were 6 trials all
together. After 3-6 months of daily breathing exercises, asthmatics
- 3-9 times less reliever medication
- about 2 times less steroidal drugs
- significantly improved quality of life
- significantly improved score for asthma symptoms (less cough,
wheezing, chest tightness, dyspnea, and other symptoms of asthma).
All these astonishing results in spite of the fact that if we compare
pulmonary parameters of the patients in the experimental groups at the end of
the trials, they only partially normalized their breathing achieving about 25-30
seconds CP (the body-oxygen test described below).
You can read all abstracts and detailed results of these and other
trails: Clinical Trials of the Buteyko
However, there were no changes in lung function results. Why?
According to Dr. Buteyko's theory breathing normalization must cure
asthma. Did asthmatics change their breathing during these randomized
controlled trials? During the most impressive study in Australia
(Bowler et al, 1998), in 3 months, consumption of reliever medication
was reduced by 96% (or 25 times less) and inhaled steroidal drugs or
preventers by about 50%. Respiratory minute volume at rest decreased
from initial 14 L/min to 9.6 L/min after 3 months, but the medical norm
for breathing is only 6 L/min, while Dr. Buteyko’s standard is 4 L/min
at rest for a 70-kg man. Hence, during their best shot, the
participated asthmatics got only about a half way towards the standard.
Thus, there were a very few asthmatics, if any, who naturally
normalized their breath during these trials.
One of the assumptions of the medical doctors, who participated in
these asthma trials, was that a Buteyko therapist taught the
alternative Buteyko technique, while a controlled group of asthmatics
learned the therapy. Indeed, in titles and abstracts of these
randomized controlled trials, we can read “trial of the Buteyko
method”. How could they study the Buteyko breathing method, if no
one learned it?
Of we consider these trials from a practical viewpoint, the patients
were mainly limited to practicing breathing exercises (e.g., 1 hour per
day). However, breathing retraining requires constant regulation of
breathing due to negative effects of lifestyle risk factors. As we
already learned it in the past, asthmatics are most likely to die and
experience acute episodes and attacks during early morning hours due to
the Morning Hyperventilation Effect.
What is the point to treat asthma, if most asthmatics sleep on their
backs and breathe though the mouth during sleep (hence, dry mouth in
the morning)? They will surely produce more irritation of airways,
inflammation and mucus during mouth breathing. How could they heal
their airways if their irritate them every morning? The typical daily
CPs (body-oxygen test results - see below) at the end of
trials, judging by other respiratory
parameters, were about 20-30 s. Morning CPs were around 15-22 s. This
allows, according to Buteyko
Table of Health Zones, reduction in most medication for asthma, but
has never been enough to heal airways and normalize lung function
Hence, it is not a smart way to teach breathing retraining therapy
- nose breathing all the time; mouth taping at night
- avoidance of sleeping on one’s back (it causes higher heart rate and
even chest pain)
- wrong coughing techniques and wheezing (ordinary coughing increases production
- sufficient physical activity (at least 2 hours every day with nasal
- and numerous other lifestyle-related details so that one’s basal
breathing pattern is gradually restored back to the medical
There are 3 levels to defeat asthma. The concise details (what is required to achieve) for these 3 levels are hidden as your bonus content below here.
Coughing and acute asthma web pages:
- Stop Acute Asthma
Exacerbation in 2-3 min (Breathwork)
- Stop Coughing At Night - A
breathing exercise to reduce duration and severity of coughing at
night. This exercise helps to fall asleep faster
- Best Cough Treatment Therapy
- The ultimate solution to chronic problems with wet or whooping cough,
chesty of dry cough, coughing at night, and coughing in children.
- Acute Asthma
Exacerbations Clinical Trial - Application of the Frolov breathing
device in hospital setting: probably the most successful medical trial
in the history of asthma trials
- Clinical effects of the
Buteyko breathing technique on asthma and other respiratory disorders
- Whatever the breathing technique applied, the final results for over
95% of breathing students depend only on their morning CP achieved.
Buteyko KP, An Instruction for VBN Therapy for Bronchial Asthma,
Angina Pectoris, High Blood Pressure and Obliterating Endarteritis:
Preprint. - Novosibirsk, 1964.
Herxheimer H, Hyperventilation asthma, Lancet 1946, 6385: p. 83-87.
Herxheimer H, The late bronchial reaction in induced asthma, Int Arch
Allergy Appl Immunol 1952; 3: p. 323-328.
Straub NC, Section V, The Respiratory System, in Physiology, eds. RM
Berne & MN Levy, 4-th edition, Mosby, St. Louis, 1998.
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