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Health Watch: Alternative Asthma Treatment

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --With asthma cases on the rise a simple breathing technique may bring relief, helping patients stay away from medication. Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is On Your Side with more.

Nearly 25 million Americans have asthma, an inflammatory disorder of the airways that makes it sometimes difficult for patients to breathe.

Traditional medications can effectively control the condition, but now some patients are finding relief by changing the way they breathe.

David Wiebe relies on his eyes to make violins. When his vision started to blur, he was alarmed to learn his asthma medicine could cost him his sight.

"Who want to lose their eyesight? But at the same time you can't live without breathing," said David.

Doctors told him he had to stop taking the steroid inhalers he had depended on most of his life. That's when he discovered an alternative treatment.

"It is re-learning how to breathe," said Thomas Yakovlev-Fredricksen, with Buteyko Center USA.

It's called "The Buteyko" method. It focuses on slow, shallow breathing through the nose, both at rest and during exercise. Dr. Buteyko believed breathing too fast and too deeply made asthma worse.

"It's a lifestyle change, and takes a while to change your lifestyle," said Sasha Yakovlev-Fredricksen, with Buteyko Center USA.

Studies show shallow breathing can improve symptoms and help asthma patients reduce their use of inhalers.

But Dr. Clifford Bassett, a Asthma Specialist, cautions the breathing technique should not replace standard treatment.

"The bottom line is it's an adjunct to proper asthma management," said Dr. Bassett.

David says the breathing method dramatically improved his asthma.

"I've reduced my reliance on the rescue inhaler by 95 percent," said David.

Classes are available online to learn the technique, and there are CD's to help.


Buteyko Center
Asthma Information- and

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

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