FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
HOW DOES THE BREATHER WORK?
How is the Breather therapeutic?
As you breathe in and out of the Breather, it functions as a therapeutic exerciser for the lungs and breathing muscles. Resistance to inhalation (breathing in) strengthens the diaphragm, the major muscle of breathing, and the accessory muscles of the neck. Resistance to exhalation (breathing out) develops strength and tone in the abdominal muscles. Additionally, exhalation resistance mimics pursed lip breathing and helps to keep the airways clear of mucus.
Is the Breather clinically effective?
How does the Breather compare to Incentive Spirometry (IS) devices?
While Incentive Spirometry encourages deep breathing, there is no resistance to the intake of air through the device. To increase the strength and endurance of your breathing muscles, you need to inhale and exhale through the Breather. Incentive Spirometry does, however, remind you to take in a deep breath and some even use it as a tool to measure their gross lung volumes.
Does using the Breather have adverse effects?
It is important to carefully follow the instructions on how to use the Breather. If you feel unwell or lightheaded when using the Breather for the first time, it is important to reduce and/or stop your training. As with any form of training, it is essential to listen to your body and to not over-exercise. If the instructions are followed, the Breather is not known to have adverse effects.
Please check with your physician if you have health problems before using the Breather.
Careful evaluation is recommended before initiation of therapy for: active hemoptysis, untreated pneumothorax, esophageal surgery, airway stenosis (true vocal fold mass, vocal fold paralysis in adducted position, subglottic stenosis, etc), intracranial pressure > 20mm Hg, recent oral, facial or skull trauma / surgery, acute sinusitis, epistaxis, hemodynamic instability, bolus emphysema, tympanic membrane rupture or middle ear pathology.
When should I not use the Breather?
If you are feeling ill, check with your physician whether he would advise you to stop your training for a while. When you are ready to resume training, you may find you need to decrease your resistance settings; this is normal. You will build your resistance and repetitions again after a short while.
Should I stop using the Breather when I get ill?
If you get ill you should consult your doctor on whether it is advisable to continue using the Breather during illness. When you are ready to resume training, you may find you need to decrease your resistance settings; this is normal. You will build your resistance and repetitions again after a short while.
Using the Breather makes me feel lightheaded. Why is that?
Almost everyone gets lightheaded and may feel they are hyperventilating when they are new to Respiratory Muscle Training (RMT). Your body needs time to adjust to the increased exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. It may take you a week or two before the lightheadedness subsides while training. When it does occur during a session, pause for several minutes, breathing normally without The Breather and then continue. If the lightheaded feeling persists, stop and contact your care provider. You are welcome to contact us as well.
Using the Breather makes me cough. Why is that?
Due to the required force working against the resistance while you are exhaling, using the Breather might make you cough. This is great for airway clearance, so don’t try to suppress it. Remove the Breather until you are finished with coughing. If the cough produces phlegm or secretions, these should be expelled rather than swallowed. Then put the Breather back into your mouth to continue training.
USING AND CARING FOR YOUR BREATHER
How do I use the Breather?
Detailed instructions on how to use the Breather are found in the package on your Breather as well as on our website. It is important to follow these instructions carefully.
Can I use the Breather reclining or lying down?
How do I clean the Breather?
The Breather should be regularly cleaned with mild, warm soapy water to prevent build-up of saliva during training. Rinse your Breather well; shake off excess water and air dry on a clean paper towel. If it is completely dry, it can be stored in a plastic bag.
Is it safe to share the Breather?
No, it is very important to use one Breather per person. If it is being used in a nursing facility or some other medical institute, label the Breather with a permanent marker to ensure individual use.
When do I need to replace the Breather?
As with any regularly used product, proper care of the Breather will help to preserve its performance for a long time. We’ve known patients to have used their Breather for over 2 years. Also, please note “How do I clean the Breather?” in our FAQs.
How often do I need to use the Breather?
Try to train on a daily basis, as it may take up to 2 – 4 weeks to feel results. The deep, slow breathing is known to almost immediately assist in relaxation.
How long do I have to use the Breather?
The Breather will be beneficial for your breathing, exercising, blood pressure, sleep and circulation as long as you keep using it. Once you have built it into your daily routine it will not feel like exercise, but more like a relaxation session. Should you start using the Breather again after a break, for example during illness, make sure to find the right resistance; you might have to reduce it for a while until your respiratory muscles have gained strength again.
Where and when can I use the Breather?
The Breather can be used anytime and almost anywhere . . . watching TV, reading a book, or anytime you feel you need to relax.
THE BREATHER AND BREATHING
Why is the Breather so important?
The Breather is important because it will yield two different results: it will strengthen your muscles for breathing in and out, and will assist you to breathe properly and efficiently.
Ask yourself these questions. . . Do I always breathe correctly? Is it always under control? Am I a superficial, upper-chest breather? Take this simple test and find out for shallow, superficial, upper-chest breathing undermines your health. . .
Find Your Diaphragm. . . Place one hand on the upper portion of the stomach just a few inches above the navel but below the breastbone. Sniff in several small inhalations per breath through the nose. The movement in that area is the diaphragm working at its best.
Test Your Breathing Technique. . . The next time you feel short of breath in need of your inhaler, stressed out, or breathing rapidly, place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your stomach. If you are breathing correctly (diaphragmatically) your stomach should feel as if it is expanding – filling with air. If your chest is rising, you are breathing superficially.
Why Is Superficial Breathing So Harmful?
Most people habitually use superficial breathing rather than diaphragmatic breathing. Retraining your body to use more efficient diaphragmatic breathing by using the Breather might reduce tensions, worries and pains that you didn’t think were connected, such as back and neck pain (1). Regular resistive breathing training (RMT) can cancel superficial breathing and promote diaphragmatic breathing.
Will the Breather help my panic attacks?
Since anxiety can lead to shallow, upper chest breathing and in some cases full blown panic attacks, regular use of the Breather will assist you in learning diaphragmatic breathing. When you suddenly realize you’re upper chest breathing at an exceptionally fast rate and can’t seem to slow down, you may find inhaling and exhaling through the Breather especially helpful, even relaxing. Please read ‘Why is Superficial Breathing So Harmful?’ found in the FAQs. Daily practice in any breathing awareness program has been used by thousands who suffer from panic attacks.
PATIENT USE OF THE BREATHER
I suffer from COPD. Can I use the Breather?
Research-based evidence has shown that Respiratory Muscle Training (RMT) in patients with stable COPD leads to significant improvements in dyspnea and breathlessness, fatigue and health-related quality of life (2). Even if you are already following an exercise regime to help alleviate the symptoms of COPD, adding RMT by using the Breather to your routine will further enhance your improvements and muscle strength (3).
Will the Breather replace my inhaler or bronchodilator?
No, the Breather does not replace the use of dry powder inhalers, corticosteroid therapy, bronchodilators, or any other medical therapy. The Breather should be used as a complementary therapy. However, you might find that you need to use your inhaler or bronchodilator less frequently (10). Studies have shown that respiratory muscle training (RMT) optimises the distribution of drugs in the lungs, thus making them more efficient. In addition, the beneficial effect of RMT on your expiratory muscles (needed for exhaling) will reduce residual drug build up in your lungs, again improving drug efficiency (11).
I suffer from asthma. Is it safe to use the Breather?
Yes, research has shown that respiratory muscle training (RMT) improves respiratory muscle strength. Children and adults suffering from asthma should benefit from using the Breather by being able to clear the airways more efficiently due to increased expiratory muscle strength. RMT also reduces the frequency of asthma attacks, severity and frequency of diurnal and nocturnal symptoms and perception of dyspnea. Regular RMT by using the Breather should result in reduced need for the use of your rescue bronchodilator (10).
Are there other conditions for which the Breather might be helpful?
Respiratory muscle training (RMT) such as using the Breather is beneficial and contributes to health and rehabilitation for a number of conditions, including COPD (2), asthma (10), obstructive sleep apnea (8), dysphagia (12), vocal fold pathologies (13), Parkinson’s Disease (14), Huntington’s Disease (15), cerebral vascular accident (16), congestive heart failure (17), muscular dystrophy (18), myasthenia gravis (19), weaning off mechanical ventilation (20), spinal cord injury (21), hypertension (22) and back pain (9).
Can I use the Breather instead of my medication?
No, the Breather does not replace any of your medication. However, you might find that you need to use inhalers or bronchodilators less frequently. Studies have shown that respiratory muscle training (RMT) optimises the distribution of drugs in the lungs, thus making them more efficient. In addition, the beneficial effect of RMT on your expiratory muscles (needed for exhaling) will reduce residual drug build up in your lungs, again improving drug efficiency (10),(11).
I have problems with my speech and/or swallowing. Can the Breather help me?
Yes. Respiratory muscle training (RMT), the expiratory muscles in particular has been shown to improve swallowing and cough, helping people with dysphagia (12). EMST, has been shown to activate movement of the hyolaryngeal complex, and this improved hyo-laryngeal excursion during swallowing helps to facilitate airway protection and assists in opening the upper esophagus. Inspiratory muscle training may help increase lung volumes with subsequent improvement in timing and co-ordination of breathing and swallowing,(ref) and improved airflow for phonation (voice). The Breather strengthens both the inspiratory and the expiratory musculature, and thus has the capacity to improve speech, swallowing and cough at the same time.
I easily get out of breath. Can I use the Breather?
Yes. You might find that you will have to work with low resistance for a while until your dyspnea, or breathlessness, has improved. Research has shown that respiratory muscle training (RMT) significantly improves dyspnea and breathlessness, which is especially important for people with COPD, asthma and the elderly. Using the Breather will strengthen your respiratory muscles, reduce your symptoms and increase your level of activity and exercise (23).
Can the Breather help patients with pulmonary hypertension?
Yes. Pulmonary hypertension (PHT) describes high blood pressure in the lung arteries, as these are constricted or blocked. It can occur as a symptom of other conditions, such as congestive heart failure, sleep apnea, and liver or autoimmune diseases. PHT patients have inspiratory and expiratory muscle weakness and poor ventilation (25). Respiratory muscle training (RMT) has been shown to be effective for PHT. RMT significantly increases inspiratory and expiratory pressure, exercise capacity, fatigue and health status in PHT patients, and it has been recommended as a ‘practical and safe treatment without complications’ (26).
NON-PATIENT USE OF THE BREATHER
I am a non-patient, how could I benefit from the Breather?
Using the Breather will increase the strength of your respiratory muscle, your chest wall muscles and your diaphragm, making your breathing more efficient (4). This will increase your exercise capacity and performance, depending on the level of your fitness. It might mean you will be able to climb the stairs more easily, or it could cut a slice off your personal best if you are an athlete (5),(6). In addition, using RMT with the Breather will lower your blood pressure, even if you are currently not at risk of hypertension (7).
Will the Breather improve my exercise capacity and performance?
Does using the Breather have additional benefits?
Will the Breather improve my sleep?
Respiratory muscle training (RMT) using the Breather can have a dramatic effect of your sleep problems. RMT improves the quantity and quality of sleep, reduces night time awakenings, limb movement, sleep apnea and hypopnea. RMT particularly improves the quality of both the REM and non-REM phases of your sleep, making your sleep more efficient and leaving you feel refreshed (8).
I easily get out of breath. Can I use the Breather?
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