My experiences with the Buteyko Breathing Technique

At the age of 13 years and being quite an active teenager I found myself progressively less able to participate in sports activities due to a tightness of breath.

I was a competitive long distance runner competing for my school in numerous inter school championships and competing at local level for my swimming club.

As my 'problem' increased in severity an uncle, who ran marathons for a 'hobby' implied I was not breathing enough and suggested a technique of more frequent and deeper breathing during exercise.

This did not appear to alleviate the problem and towards my last years of school participated less in sports due to my inability to compete due to breathlessness.

My parents and Doctor at that time put this down to the development of hay fever and the fact we had a cat within the house. My Doctor suggested that I would 'grow out of it' and was unwilling to prescribe any medication to assist in the reduction of symptoms.

Living in the house with an affectionate cat was not easy and I learned to live with the problems.

Over the years convincing my GP in the UK that I had a problem that needed treating was difficult and all he prescribed was a mild antihistamine that seemed to take the edge off of the symptoms but not give any relief.

At the age of 22 I moved away from my parents and lived in a house without a cat but the symptoms still persisted although they were not as severe. I concluded that house dust / mites may also be a contributing factor.

My GP would still not prescribe any drugs so I learned to live with the breathlessness and severe sneezing fits and by this time I had resolved myself to living with the problems I had, untreated for the rest of my life.

In January 1996 I was transferred by my employer for a 2 year secondment to Melbourne Australia and approached a Doctor in Melbourne who completed a referral document for myself to visit an allergist for desensitisation treatment.

On visiting the allergist he completed a case history and during the same consultation I was given a skin allergy test and breathing test.

The breath test showed no signs of abnormality and normal if not higher than normal lung capacity, at the time this seemed odd to me due to the fact I was suffering breathlessness during light exercise (walking up short flights of steps, walking etc.).

The skin test highlighted allergic reactions to dust mite and cats and on leaving the allergist I was given a large prescription, a regimen of household dust control and told to purchase a book called 'Friendly Food', published by the Royal Prince Alfred hospital in Sydney, Australia.

The treatment consisted of :

Ventolin - As and when necessary

Claratyne (Antihystamine) - 3 times daily

First 2 weeks

Spray Tish (Nasal Decongestant) - One spray per nostril 4 times daily

Intal - Following the Spray Tish

Subsequent weeks the dosage was to be reduced to 3 times daily with the use of Spray Tish when nasal congestion was severe.

After the five week initial period there was an improvement in symptoms but on occasions I would have a particularly bad bout of sneezing and wheeziness.

Also keeping to the 'Friendly Food' guidelines I found that I seemed to have reactions to tomatoes, oranges, chocolate, products containing yeast (bread, beer, wine) and mushrooms - you know all the nice stuff !

I must admit I do not like using medication and hate the idea of any long term dependencies that may result from prolonged use.

At this point I thought I was beyond all hope and while reading a local free paper saw an advertisement regarding an information session for the 'Buteyko Breathing Technique'.

Just to give you a little background I am a very sceptical person especially when it comes to proposed 'miracle cures' but I am open minded and decided to attend especially as the session was advertised as free.

I also decided to do a little homework about the subject and searched the Internet for anything information regarding the subject. To my surprise I found a wealth of information and printed in excess of 50 A4 pages of information both technical and low level information.

I immediately contacted Peter Kolb for information who was prompt in supplying a reply and I began to 'work the Buteyko technique'

I also attended the course locally - five evenings for 11/2 hours and to my surprise I found that :

I shan't go into the techniques used as there is enough written in these pages about the technique without me going over it again but needless to say it is surprising to find a simple technique such correct breathing can improve the quality of life.

I can only urge anyone reading this who suffers with asthma and or any allergies to try the techniques that Dr Buteyko has developed - it will cost you nothing if you try it yourself, although attending a proper clinic would be a wise investment as the practitioner can assess the severity of your condition and suggest exercises specific to your needs.

Also just think of the long term savings in terms of reduced prescription charges and what the improvement to your lifestyle is worth should you're symptoms reduce by only 50% not to mention a complete cure.

Good Luck

Bryan Godfrey

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