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Speech Therapy for Asthma

Hi! I had my first SLP session today and we worked on basic breathing in and out using my abdomen and making a sound. When you do this you should totally disengage the throat, neck and shoulders. When you breath in big now stop…see how your throat is tensed up? Yep, that's happening inside too including your vocal cords and you end up sore and raw. 

Instead, when you inhale through your nose make your belly round. This is forcing the diaphragm down and pulling air straight down the line. Shhhhh through closed teeth while pulling your abdomen in when exhaling. This uses the diaphragm to push air out. When done correctly the neck and throat are relaxed. 

I was told to practice 2-3 times a day sitting and walking. Next time we will do a different thing with stairs and the dreaded windex. 

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  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, wow, Gigi! I had no idea how tight my throat got when I did this! I'm totally going to try this.

    I can see how this would strengthen the diaphragm and open up the lungs. I remember watching a yoga video some years ago and the instructor talked about how shallowly we often breathe. It stuck with me — sometimes I remember that, and I take in a slow deep breath and am amazed how much different I feel. 

  • Jen

    I hope the breathing techniques help.  Do you have follow up appointments with the slp?

  • Jen

    Do they anticipate that it will be a regular therapy appointment for a while or will just a few sessions do the trick?

  • K8sMom2002

    And I'm pretty curious about what they're planning on doing with the Windex? Ack! but Windex does me in.

  • Mandy

    I have been working on this too. We have limited access to SLP here. I found this article and thought I'd share.

    I would be very cautious of the Windex. While I get that you need to work on your response to triggers ( don't we all??), Amonia is BAD. Response or not, it is still an irritant that will impact your lungs. I'd question the efficacy of that one for sure. What's their rationale? 

  • K8sMom2002

    Mandy, that's an interesting article. I was especially interested in what they said about the brain:

    Functional neuroimaging studies show that brain structures mediating breathlessness are related anatomically and functionally to those processing emotions, and that emotional state may influence immunological responses, for example to aeroallergens.

    And they also talked about that negative feedback loop. I've seen that happen to me: someone sprays a cologne or hairspray or what have you, and my chest tightens, and then I think I'm going to have an asthma attack and I panic, and pretty soon, sure enough, I have an asthma attack.

    But there have been other times when I calm myself and calm my breathing, and for whatever reason, I DON'T have an asthma attack — at least not a huge one that leaves me reaching for my inhaler. 

    I can't say that my effort to calm my breathing is what stops the asthma attack from being as bad as it could be. But it seems to be the one common denominator.  This article sort of explains why that could be — it's "in my brain" but NOT (as some people have said) "all in my head." 

    How are you working on improving your breathing without a SLP?

  • GigiGibson

    I'm enjoying all the feedback here. I had an attack last night about ten minutes after I laid down. The breathing did help but I couldn't do it too long at a time. Did really help with the air hunger feeling

  • Mandy

    Cynthia, my therapist has helped with teaching me breathing techniques and I have done a lot of reading. I am sure there is more that a SLP would help with but like I said access to one is limited. I also have found that acupuncture has helped with the tightness in my throat. Theory goes the acupuncture helps to increase blood flow and aids in smooth muscle relation. I'll take it! 

  • Marc

    Very interesting.   I have asthma, but then they diagnosed me also having VCD.   SLP was used to attempt to help that condition.   So when I feel relief from the exercises, I always think I am positively impacting my VCD.  What you are saying is that it could be helping my asthma too?   

    Also considering acupuncture for asthma and throat tightness. 

  • Kathy P

    Welcome Marc! Interesting that you were also diagnosed with VCD and thatthe exercises help.

  • K8sMom2002

    Marc — just curious about what sorts of exercises they showed you how to do? Did they give you a time frame on when you could see improvement?

  • Mandy

    Welcome Marc! I have found the acupuncture helpful Interested in the exercises and time frame SLP gave you.

  • Jen

    Hi Marc,

    Welcome to the asthma forums.  Glad to have you.  Do you get relief from your asthma meds?

  • Marc

    Hi Jen.   Thanks for the welcome.  To answer your question, I am not sure what my relief at this point.   My Asthma ebbs and flows (good and bad) according to the tests.   Unfortunately, my symptoms remain.   Some attribute the symptoms to VCD, but the ENT said that the folds in my throat are looking better.   So I am still searching for what is causing my condition.   I have tightness in my throat that makes it hard to breath.   Does anyone else have this?  Any thoughts on what a third component might be?

     

    P.S.   Asthma medicines seem to make my condition worse…so odd…

  • Marc

    I have so many that I am trying.   The breathing ones seem better that the speech ones.   I am also starting physical therapy this week on my throat and neck to see if that helps.   

    What is odd, is that I thought VCD would flare and then dissipate.   I do not see that in my soup of a condition (VCD and Asthma).   I am in a constant state of some level of tightness/wizzyness/shorten of breath.   

    Anyone else have this?

  • K8sMom2002

    Marc, we do have some members here who are trying SLP to help with VCD. And according to a , controlling the VCD can help in those patients who also have asthma. 

    How long have you been managing your symptoms? When did they start?

  • Kathy P

    Marc, when you say asthma meds can make it worse, are you referring to inhaled corticosteroids? I recently had an issue with switching meds and new combo med really screwed up my vocal cords. I'm still trying to get them back to normal nearly 3 months out. It was a weird perfect storm of a viral illness, coughing, reflux and the the med change.

  • GigiGibson

    I need to reschedule, I cancelled the last one due to acute illness. I don't like it and don't see the value but I will reschedule and hope for the beat

  • K8sMom2002

    What don't you like about it, Gigi? What sort of timeline did they give you to see improvements if it was going to help?

  • GigiGibson

    I don't know. They don't know that I have VCD. I don't wheeze or have stridor so they are shooting in the dark. Having nothing else to offer me (their words in pulmonary at UNC) I am encouraged to try it. I'm trying what they taught me during attacks and it is impossible and ineffective 

  • Kathy P

    That sound frustrating Gigi! Do you think it's just not going to beeffective during an attack or that you need more coaching on how to makeit effective?

  • GigiGibson

    I'm just not going back. Just decided. I had an attack last night at the bowling alley due  I some ahole that smoked in the bathroom. It lasted hour and a half and I had leg cramps all night from meds and I feel like someones driving their fist into my sternum and my lungs hurt. The SLP wants to do stairs and windex to trigger symptoms and then do the breathing exercises. She doesn't have to live with the after effects, i do. I have to drag my weary butt to work each day praying to recover and taking more meds than all her grandparents combined. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Oh, Gigi, that attack and it's after effects sound rough. I can't imagine knowing that you will be triggering an attack … Did any tip or trick work? 

  • GigiGibson

    Thx Kathy. Yes, the first post for deep breathing helps me when I'm breathless from running around and I use it to get meds deep in my lungs. 

  • K8sMom2002

    Well, that's something! I'm glad there's been one tidbit that has helped. 

    Timing is everything…there may come a time when the SLP works or makes sense to try again, but I can understand not wanting to put your body through attacks. 

  • Jen

    Hugs Gigi~  I  think the techniques are good, but I agree with you that intentionally triggering attacks just doesn't seem like a good idea.

  • Kathy P

    @Marc - how have the therapies been working for you? Have you found any that help? Any that don't work for you at all? Are you still having the constant tightness/shortness of breath?

  • Shea

    I am supposed to schedule an appointment with a speech pathologist. My doctor said sometimes the asthma meds in powder form can irritate vocal cords, so maybe, Marc, that is why some asthma meds make the worse? Maybe you can ask your doc about that and see if there a non-powder formed or nebulized treatments as other options for asthma. My doctor said its tough to tell sometimes what wheezing/ lack of oxygen could be coming from my vocal chords/throat wheeze, and what is coming from the asthma/inflamed airways. He said prednisone/inhaled corticosteroids that we use to treat asthma do not treat this vocal chord throat wheeze (I dont remember if there is a technical name for it). I told him my nebulizer seems to help my throat wheeze too and he said the humidity from it might be helping my throat wheeze, and the medications in it helping my asthmatic lungs/airways. He recomended I see a speech parhologist.. that they will use biofeedback to help teach me how to control my breathing consciously to avoid the throat wheeze and … something about a flap I can open and close.. and I will watch a computer screen that shows my vocal chords and these breaths and the flap… and learn using biofeedback so that I can resolve it. The speech patjologist office was supposed to call me to schedule, but I am going to call them on Monday since they havent. I am hoping it helps, and that my insurance will cover it!

  • K8sMom2002

    Shea, here's hoping! I know that there must be something in my own case that's triggered by this because when I find myself reading aloud for an extended stretch or talking for a long time (especially if it's me doing ALL the talking, like if I'm giving a long presentation), sometimes that can trigger an attack. I've also noticed that when I use my hands free connection in my car and I have to speak more loudly, that can do it. 

    Could you ask your doctor if there's a way you could neb with just saline to see if THAT might give you that dose of humidity that he says might help? If you could reduce some of the meds OR use saline in between instead of having to up your other meds, that would be a great thing!

  • Jen

    Shea – Were you able to schedule an appointment with the speech pathologist?