The Buteyko theory is essentially about recognizing and reversing Chronic Hyperventilation (chronic over-breathing). Up to now, very few doctors have considered it a valid diagnosis, although overwhelming evidence has been collected both through scientific research and therapeutic practice.
Let me cite just a few of the many articles confirming that CHV plays a significant role in the development of a number of chronic diseases, conditions and symptoms which are prevalent among modern population.
Among the most difficult and frustrating patients for physicians are those with multiple complaints involving many organ systems who, despite seeing numerous physicians, fail to obtain a satisfactory explanation or relief from their symptoms. They often have a “positive review of systems.” After numerous physicians have been seen and multiple diagnostic tests have been done, which have excluded organic disorders, such patients are often dismissed as having nothing wrong with them or having a severe neurosis, anxiety, depression, hypochondriasis or hysteria, despite the persistence of symptoms that may be disabling in their work and other aspects of everyday living. Unfortunately, this scenario continues to be a common occurrence and is the frequent setting in which the hyperventilation syndrome is recognized, months or years after its onset. Previous studies have shown that 5 percent to 10 percent of patients seeking care from primary care physicians have at least some complaints related to hyperventilation.
TABLE 2.–Signs and Symptoms of Hyperventilation Syndrome
GENERAL Weakness, fatigue, sleep disturbances, blurred vision
PSYCHIATRIC Anxiety, depression, phobias, feeling far away, sensations of unreality
NEUROLOGIC Paresthesias (*sensation of tingling, pricking, or numbness) in extremities or periorally (*around the mouth), lightheadedness, dizziness, disorientation, impaired thinking, seizures, syncope, headaches
CARDIOLOGIC Palpitations, chest pain
RESPIRATORY Dyspnea (*difficult or labored breathing) often without provocation characterized as being unable to take a satisfying deep inspiration, exaggerated thoracic breathing, sighing, yawning
GASTROINTESTINAL Dry mouth, bloating, belching, flatulence
MUSCULAR Cramping, spasm, musculoskeletal chest wall pain (chest wall syndrome)
(Hyperventilation Syndrome: A Diagnosis Begging for Recognition GREGORY J. MAGARIAN, MD; DEBORAH A. MIDDAUGH, MD, and DOUGLAS H. LINZ, MD, Portland )
Chest pain is frequently a prominent symptom of the hyperventilation syndrome (HVS) and must be distinguished from angina pectoris due to coronary atherosclerotic heart disease (CAHD)… The failure to make this clinical differential diagnosis, which often leads to unnecessary coronary angiography, should not be as frequent as generally experienced. (Hyperventilation syndrome: a frequent cause of chest pain. C E Wheatley)
This review discusses the evidence for dysregulated breathing playing a role in three clinical syndromes: panic disorder, functional cardiac disorder, and chronic pain. Recent technological advances allowing the ambulatory assessment of endtidal partial pressure of CO2 (PCO2) and respiratory patterns have opened up new avenues for investigation and treatment of these disorders. The latest evidence from laboratories indicates that subtle disturbances of breathing, such as tidal volume instability and sighing, contribute to the chronic hypocapnia often found in panic patients. Hypocapnia is also common in functional cardiac and chronic pain disorders, and studies indicate that it mediates some of their symptomatology. Consistent with the role of respiratory dysregulation in these disorders, initial evidence indicates efficacy of respiration-focused treatment. (Respiratory Dysregulation in Anxiety, Functional Cardiac, and Pain Disorders Frank H. Wilhelm Stanford University Richard Gevirtz California School of Professional Psychology—San Diego Walton T. Roth Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System)
Although Buteyko medical trials in the Western world have been conducted mostly for groups of asthma patients, it is time to recognize that the problem of CHV is much more widespread. Most importantly, we have a technique available right now to correct CHV without drug interventions, expensive therapies or invasive procedures. As with most chronic health problems, it is easier to catch CHVS early, before years of unrecognized hyperventilation impose extensive damage upon one’s health.
I urge doctors and nurses to do their own inquiry into the overwhelming evidence of the validity of the CHVS diagnosis and to recognize the extent of the problem for the sake of their patients.
There are some positive signs. The same student of mine whom I have mentioned in the previous article “Classification of the Diseases and Correct Diagnosis,” told me that after years of going from doctor to doctor without clear diagnoses, her neurologist finally suggested she suffers from CHVS. Additionally, while I was finishing this article, I found out about a new exciting development – Coventry University, UK, just launched a program to train nurses to teach Buteyko technique to their patients. (http://www.nursingtimes.net/nurses-to-be-trained-to-teach-buteyko-breathing-technique-to-asthmatics/5000294.article)
Request a consultation today to find out if an existing medical condition that you or your child are experiencing might be related to Chronic Hyperventilation.
Buteyko Clinic USA offers unique breathing rehabilitation programs that result in long term drug free control over asthma, allergies, COPD, rhinitis, chronic cough, snoring, sleep apnea, anxiety, panic, chronic hyperventilation syndrome and other chronic conditions. Contact us today for a free consultation.