Asthma and Nasal Problems

Bad breathing habits can develop at a young age. They can be corrected at any age. Unfortunately, faulty breathing habits are not something our health system usually picks up on. But as a society they are costing us dearly.






Breathing Retraining naturally reduces asthma and allergy symptoms and need for relief medication by up to 96% 1

Asthma and chronic nasal problems such as stuffiness, mucus congestion and postnasal drip affect people of all ages, and can develop very early in life.  They impact sleep quality, general health and well-being, school and work performance, and can severely limit ability to enjoy sporting activities.  What many people are not aware of is that there is more than drug therapy and surgical procedures that can assist you to better manage your asthma and nasal problems. Understanding your condition and why you get asthma in the first place is a great help in both prevention and relief.

The link with your breathing pattern

What is common in all sufferers of asthma, hay fever and chronic nasal problems is they do not breathe correctly. They overbreathe. For instance, research has shown that asthmatics breathe 14 litres of air per minute when the normal is 5 litres1.

This overbreathing takes the form of mouth-breathing, upper-chest breathing, frequent yawning or sighing, a repetitive cough or breathing that is too fast or heavy through the nose. The normal rate of breathing is 8-12 breaths per minute. Most asthmatics breathe around 17.

Overbreathing and mouth-breathing impact the airways through dehydration of the lining, swelling and congestion, and produce allergic responses, such as histamine and mucus.  In asthmatics, overbreathing can also lead to a restriction of the airways (bronchospasm) and wheezing and breathlessness. This is because overbreathing depletes the body of carbon dioxide – a natural bronchodilator.


Poor breathing habits are often overlooked by health professionals as an underlying cause of respiratory ailments, despite the fact that research has demonstrated that asthmatics and chronic nasal sufferers breathe air at two or three times the normal rate.  Our health system tends to treat these conditions medically, without consideration as to what impact improved breathing may have on treatment outcomes.  Failure to correct faulty breathing habits comes at great cost to both the patient and to society.

Evidence base for breathing retraining

 GraphClinical trials have proven that breathing retraining can greatly assist asthma sufferers, offering significant relief of symptoms and reduced need for medication. The study conducted through the Mater Hospital in Brisbane (1994-95), using the Buteyko breathing method, was the first such study in the Western world. It showed the stunning result of a 71% reduction in symptoms and an average 96% reduction in bronchodilator use. (Bowler, MJA)

Similar studies of breathing techniques have now been conducted in many countries.

As a result of the now substantial evidence base for the efficacy of ‘breathing techniques’,  the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) has on page 40 of its newly published document titled ‘Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention 2014 (Revision)’ 2 assigned breathing techniques an evidence level rating of 'A'. For evidence level ‘A’, the sources of evidence are: (a) randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and meta-analyses, and (b) a rich body of data. 

Breathing techniques complement the medical management of asthma, allowing patients to exercise a significant amount of control of their asthma. Unlike medications, breathing retraining has no side-effects.

Case study

 Respected breathing educator Tess Graham, reports that she learned how asthmatic children could benefit from corrected breathing habits through personal experience:

“Two of my children had asthma and needed more and stronger medications each year. The breakthrough for them came when I realised how heavily they breathed compared to my other child – they fogged the windows up near their beds at night and I could hear their breathing from my bedroom - but not so with my non-asthmatic child. They breathed differently. Their chronic asthma and nasal problems went away when they stopped inflaming their airways by breathing incorrectly. Following breathing retraining, they no longer required medication.”

Getting help

Breathing consultations in Canberra

Breathing courses in Canberra

Breathing workshops (half-day) – more information soon

Book and CD on breathing retraining

Book * - Relief from Snoring and Sleep Apnoea : A step-by-step guide to quiet restful sleep and better health through changing the way you breathe. Tess Graham (Penguin 2012)
CD – Breathing Exercise Instruction CD – a companion product to the book.

* While the book is specifically written for people with sleep-breathing issues, the information, strategies and step-by-step breathing training program in the book is also of help to people with asthma and nasal problems.

Take the Faulty Breathing Quiz.

(1) Buteyko breathing techniques in asthma: a controlled trial’. Bowler SD, Green A, Mitchell CA. MJA. 1988; 169: 575–578.
(2) Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention 2014 (Revision) P 40


McHugh H et al. NZ Medical Journal 2003;116:1187 Buteyko Breathing Technique for asthma: an effective intervention “‘BBT (Buteyko breathing technique) is a safe and efficacious asthma management technique. BBT has clinical and potential pharmaco-economic benefits that merit further study.”

, Hassana ZM, Riadb NM and Ahmedc FH. Egyptian Journal of Chest Diseases and Tuberculosis. 2012; 61(4): 235–241 “Even though no study has indicated exactly why Buteyko is so effective at controlling asthma, if a drug could show these results, then it is likely that it would be used widely in asthma control.”
‘Effect of Buteyko breathing technique on patients with bronchial asthma’

,    Adelola O.A., Oosthuiven J.C., Fenton J.E. Clinical Otolaryngology.2013, April;38(2):190-191.  Role of Buteyko breathing technique in asthmatics with nasal symptoms’An evaluation by Limerick University Hospital in Ireland of 26 people with a diagnosis of asthma and chronic rhinitis, showed a 71% reduction of rhinitis symptoms in asthma at three month follow up.

Graham T, Stalmatsky A, Drake C. Medical Journal of Australia 1995; January, 162:53
“Unprecedented broad spectrum results, in the short and medium term, a dynamic breakthrough”. 

* * Breaking News * *

Dr Joseph Mercola, owner of the largest natural health website in the world, recently published this article: How the Buteyko Breathing Method Can Improve Your Health and Fitness – asthma, snoring and sleep apnoea