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Last Updated: Monday, 21 April, 2003, 00:06 GMT 01:06 UK
'Asthma took away my childhood'
Kate Jude
Buteyko teaches breathing
For 42 years Kate Jude was a chronic asthmatic.

She could not take part in any sports, and had to sit by watching her brothers and sisters racing about on their bikes having fun.

Her condition was so chronic that she was unable to manage even a full week at school without time off sick.

But last year Kate, from Cambridgeshire, discovered the Buteyko Technique, designed to help with breathing.

Breathing

For the first time in her life she has been attack free and off the inhalers and steroids that dominated her previous life.

"I had my first attack when I was just six weeks old, it started off with a cold and then it got worse.

"I was sent to a special school because I never attended a full week. In the special school we were not sent into the playground to play in cold weather and we had a nurse there all the time."

It is like somebody has given me back my life at the age of 40
Kate Jude

But she said one of the hardest things to cope with was the way that the asthma had robbed her of her childhood.

"I had brothers and sisters who rode their bikes and did wonderful things, but I was always the mother figure because I could not do those things.

"Asthma is a really horrible thing."

Her condition was so bad that she needed to carry a nebuliser in her handbag because she had so many attacks.

She got through two inhalers a week.

Hope

But then she watched a QED programme on BBC and heard about the Buteyko method, which teaches asthmatics like herself to slow their breathing.

"I felt they were talking to me and I wanted to give it a go."

After the week long course, of one-and-a-half hour sessions each day, Kate had stopped using her drugs.

"For 14 months I have used no inhalers. I just wish somebody had told me about this when I was 10-years-old.,

"I am gardening now. I ride a push bike and I walk the dogs - things that other people do.

"It is like somebody has given me back my life at the age of 40."

Technique

Craig Williams, who teaches the controversial technique, said Buteyko could transform lives.

An asthmatic himself, he took up Buteyko nearly five years ago and says it has transformed his life.

A course of treatment costs 290 for adults and 250 for children.

Buteyko is also suggested for a range of other breathing related conditions such as hay fever, sinusitis, sleep apnoea, anxiety/panic and emphysema.

But Mr Williams wants to see it made available to more people on the NHS and he says offering it as soon as possible can avoid a lifetime of misery.

"What we are aiming for is to make these treatments available on the NHS.

"If you can nip the child's problem in the bud, the less suffering they will have."

He said the technique had received some bad publicity when it was said they advocated gagging children as part of the treatment.

"This suggestion was incorrect with regards to the Buteyko Institute Method," he said.

"We suggest that tape is only applied when the nose is sufficiently clear to allow comfortable breathing through it.

"It is there merely to stop a person's mouth dropping open as they fall asleep and the jaw muscles relax. Micropore surgical tape is suggested, having been pressed on to a piece of clothing first to remove the majority of the stickiness so that it is easy to remove.

"If a person does not wish to wear the tape they do not have to. It is only a suggestion, but one that is shown to be highly effective in improving a person's sleep."

Research

The National Asthma Campaign has funded research into the technique and its clinical effectiveness as a complementary addition to conventional asthma techniques.

A spokesman said: "This research showed that for some people with asthma the Buteyko breathing technique helped to reduce their symptoms and use of reliever inhaler but it did not improve the underlying condition.

"However, it may help people adapt to their asthma and feel more in control of their treatment and may be worth trying for those who are both sympathetic to the ethos and willing to commit the time required.

"Further research is needed to identify if certain people with asthma benefit more than others."




SEE ALSO:
Asthma drug death fears
24 Feb 03  |  Health
New guidelines on asthma
29 Jan 03  |  Health


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