Asthma affects 1 in 12 people in the United States, with more than half of these people being children. It is a condition in which the airways become inflamed, making breathing difficult. For many sufferers, it’s a lifelong illness that is expensive to treat, and in severe cases, potentially fatal. To complicate matters further, simply knowing this fact can make coping with asthma even worse, because of the stress and fear that associated with this all-too-common illness.
Asthma attacks are potentially terrifying when one is unable to catch their breath, and instead, there is wheezing, coughing, and in some cases, the sensation of choking, or a feeling that someone is sitting on your chest. Needless to say, this is a highly stressful situation for everyone who’s around at the time, and worse of all, for the person who feels unable to breath.
But there is one thing that may help reduce the severity/duration of an asthma attack, and it’s probably not what you’d expect. That is hypnosis. Hypnosis can help ease some of the anxiety and panic associated with asthma attacks so that medications like fast acting inhalers can do their work, and the patient can finally breathe easy yet again.
The causes for asthma are many and varied. For some people, triggers are environmental, such as airborne allergens like pollen, perfume, tobacco smoke, etc. in the air around them. For others, attacks can be brought on by stress, or emotional turmoil.
Regardless of the cause, hypnosis can help deal with the attack by breaking what’s called an “anxiety feedback cycle.” In this cycle, the asthma attack is triggered, panic sets in, making it even harder to breathe than before. The fear of the pain and breathlessness actually makes the asthma attack that much worse!
Hypnosis can help by retraining how one reacts to the onset of an attack, which can shorten it and reduce severity. The hypnotherapist may use visualization to help the patient picture breathing in a comfortable, satisfying breath, and hold on to that moment in their mind when their asthma symptoms return. And in some truly amazing cases, patients who used self-hypnosis for asthma were able to prevent symptoms from happening at all. This meant less time on fast acting inhalers and corticosteroids. Some patients were even able to reduce or stop taking their medications at all!
Asthma is a very serious illness, which can make living a normal life seem impossible sometimes. Treatment that uses hypnosis along with medication has shown great promise in many patients, and has helped them catch their breath, by retraining the brain and lungs to work together in harmony.