Medical device company Harmonica Techs reecently surveyed 34 asthma educators about alternative, complementary ways to treat asthma at the 2014 Association of Asthma Educators conference held in San Antonio, Texas. Breathing exercises, staying active, and relaxation through meditation were some of the suggestions for asthma patients.
Currently, the only methods to control or avoid asthma that have proven to be effective are prescribed medications. Conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, COPD and other breathing disorders can be debilitating, and difficulty breathing is a very common symptom. At the 2014 Association of Asthma Educators conference, experts suggested alternative ways to manage the problem and complement prescribed therapies.
About 83 percent of the educators recommended breathing exercises as an alternative — diaphragmatic breathing and pursed lip breathing. Mary Lou Keller, co-inventor of the Pulmonica®, explained in a press release: “Asthma actually causes air to become trapped in your lungs, and some people find relief with pursed lip breathing, where you inhale slowly through your nose and then exhale twice as slowly through pursed lips, as if you were trying to whistle. Diaphragmatic breathing maximizes air distribution in the lungs, strengthens the muscles that work the lungs, increases oxygenation, and reduces stress. That’s a lot of power for such a simple act. When you inhale deeply, your belly should move outward from your body. Your chest should not be all that moves. Exhale twice as slowly with your abdomen moving inward, and concentrate on taking long and slow belly breaths.” Keller’s Pulmonica made headlines on Lung Disease News back in October, when the device was showcased at the association of Asthma Educators conference held in San Antonio. The Pulmonica is low-tuned instrument specially designed to emit deep, resonant, relaxing sounds that vibrate through the lung structures and sinuses.
Approximately 64 percent of the experts suggested that exercise programs like those in pulmonary rehabilitation could be useful: “Many people with asthma are afraid that exercise will cause an attack, but if proper precautions are taken, such as using an inhaler prior to exercise or having an inhaler nearby, almost everyone can benefit from staying active at an appropriate level,” explained the president of Harmonica Techs, Dana Keller.
51 percent recommended relaxation and meditation and 34 percent muscle training: “Most people only use a relatively small percentage of their lung capacity, but by training the respiratory system against resistance with long, slow, deep, complete belly-breathing, research is showing that more of the lungs can be engaged. A strong respiratory system is vital to strong circulatory and immune systems. For people who have a lot of mucus in their lungs, some resistance-training devices can help loosen the mucus and make it easier to eliminate,” according to Keller.
Playing wind instruments was referred by 20 percent of the experts; 14 percent recommended vitamins, 9 percent massages and acupuncture and 3 percent hypnotherapy and speech therapy.
“We are proud that the top five most commonly recommended complementary treatments for asthma have all been incorporated into development of the Pulmonica® (…) Long, slow, deep, complete breathing is all that is needed to use the specially tuned pulmonary harmonica. The result is a relaxing breath exercise against mild resistance. No musical talent is needed to benefit from this instrument. The low vibrations help loosen congestion, and regular use is meditative and should help to engage more of a person’s lungs. Plus, the Pulmonica® is fun to use, so compliance is higher than with a more medical looking device. Testimonials indicate that people who used the Pulmonica® needed less medication, became more active, and enjoyed exercising their respiratory system with this innovative product,” concluded Dr. Keller.