Oxygen and Asthma – How To Make Asthma Worse!
The level of oxygen in your blood when you are able to breathe normally is very high. You cannot significantly increase the level of oxygen in your blood by breathing more!
Your blood is usually 99% saturated with oxygen and you cannot squeeze more in by deep breathing.
A study was done in 1963 and written up in the New England Journal of Medicine [a very prestigious medical journal], where people were forced to breathe as deeply as they could for 15 minutes. Before they started the doctors measured the oxygen and CO2 levels in their blood.
After 15 minutes of deep breathing the level of oxygen had DROPPED greatly in the blood, and the CO2 level had increased. Did this breathing make them feel good? Nope. They were dizzy, nauseous, and many were coughing and wheezing.
So always remember – your lungs are a gas mixing chamber. They work best when you have the right mix of gases in them – just like the carburettor of a car.
If the mix of gases is wrong, then the motor will have low power, poor economy and will wear out faster. [Not to mention spluttering and backfiring!]
The breathing done during an asthma attack is similar to that done by the subjects of the study in 1963. When we get asthma we ‘naturally’ try to breathe more deeply – to get more air in. Because we feel like are not getting enough. Interestingly – the harder we try to push more air into our lungs – the more the air pipes close up.
How To Make a Little Asthma Wheeze Into A BIG One
If you have a little wheeze – and want to make it into a big one – then just work on breathing harder and deeper. Here is some dime store physiology – listen now and see if it makes sense.
Our lungs need to have the right mix of oxygen and carbon dioxide. If it gets too out of balance it will mess up our body chemistry and we will die. Note that we need to keep enough carbon dioxide in our lungs – not just oxygen. We need the right mix.
We get oxygen from the air around us, and we produce carbon dioxide by consuming energy in our body. Blood brings carbon dioxide to the lungs and we release it when we breathe out.
Think what will happen if we breathe too much for the level of enegy we are burning. Remember we need to breathe at the right level to have just the right mix of carbon dioxide and oxygen in our lungs. If we breathe our carbon dioxide out faster than we produce it – the level in our lungs will drop. There will be almost no change in oxygen in our lungs – no matter how much we breathe extra.
If the level of carbon dioxide in our lungs drops too low – we will die. So to stop that from happening – our body has defenses. A very simple defense is to cause the airpipes to close up [bronchoconstriction]. This means that a smaller volume of air able to be breathed – and therefore less carbon dioxide will be released out of our bodies. So we trap more in – and when enough is trapped in – the bronchoconstriction is no longer needed – and it stops. Is this too simple to be real?
Research has shown that the smooth muscle of the bronchi [airpipes] will constrict if put into a low carbon dioxide environment, and relax if put into high carbon dioxide environment.
So – if you are an asthmatic – which means that you have the ability to do this cool bronchoconstriction thing – and you want to create an asthma attack – just breathe in such a way as to lower the carbon dioxide in your lungs. Easy. If you already have an asthma attack and want to make it worse – guess what you need to do?
The answer is obviously not to do anything but take your drugs and stay alive so you can learn how to use the Buteyko method to eventually avoid the whole thing. Once you learn how to do the breathing to stop an attack using less and less medication – you will find the attacks happen less often and you can relieve them without your inhalers – until you rarely ever have an attack.