We all know that without oxygen we would cease to be, and that if we stopped breathing we would stop living. For someone suffering from an acute asthma attack, these are not merely basic facts floating around in the abstraction of the space between our ears, but they are vital. Someone who experiences asthma attacks often thinks about both realities on a daily basis. No oxygen equals no breath; not breathing is equated with death. In fact, given that an average of nine people die from asthma attacks every day, for an asthmatic to be concerned about the availability and intake of oxygen and of how well they can breathe in the present moment is normal.
What isn’t normal, say some contrarians, is not that they desire more oxygen, but the way that they breathe. For the last sixty years, groups of breathing specialists have studied asthma and come to the conclusion that the way for asthmatics to overcome their symptoms is to get more oxygen and more carbon dioxide into the lungs by breathing less deeply and less often.
Such conclusions, stemming from a holistic treatment for asthma from which many people have actually benefited, sound absurd to someone amid a panic attack. Gasping, clutching, wheezing for more air intake, more oxygen because the throat is inflamed and constricted, the lungs are laboring, the face is growing hot, shivers are shooting down the spine, and someone says, “slow down. Breathe shallower and less often”? The chronic asthma sufferer might scoff; “Breathe Less?! I already feel like I am breathing through a narrow straw!”
According to vast research, however, breathing specialists have arrived at the conclusion that a holistic treatment for asthma is to breathe less so that the oxygen you inhale can be more efficiently delivered to your bodily tissues and organs. And, the chemical regulator that is in charge of that process is carbon dioxide. The gentler we breathe the more carbon dioxide that is accumulated and consequently more oxygen is delivered throughout the body.
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