Emphysema, COPD, Breathlessness
The chief symptom of emphysema is breathlessness and fatigue on activity.
Despite the lung damage, it may be possible through breathing training to improve the mechanics and efficiency of breathing, both when at rest and during activity. Some Buteyko clients with emphysema report reduction in mucous production, less breathlessness and that BIM techniques help them to do more without distress.
A diagnosis of emphysema indicates that damage has occurred to delicate tissues of the lung - the alveoli. There are numerous of these small, elastic walled air sacs in the lungs. They are critical to efficient oxygen exchange. The severity of the condition will depend on the extent of damage to the alveoli.
Science – Respiration and the Bohr effect
We breathe in air from the atmosphere around us; the oxygen from the air crosses from our lungs into the smallest blood vessels (capillaries) where the oxygen molecules attach to haemoglobin molecules in the red blood cells. Oxygen is transported in red blood cells as oxy-haemoglobin.
In order for oxygen to be utilsed by the cells of the body for cell respiration, it must first be released by the haemoglobin molecules. Oxygen binds tightly to haemoglobin in an environment of low arterial carbon dioxide. This phenomenon is described by the Bohr Effect and the Oxygen Dissociation Curve. Over-breathing leads to a deficit of carbon dioxide in arterial blood thereby reducing oxygen release from haemoglobin. In other words the more deeply you breathe the tighter the oxygen may bind to your red blood cells and the less oxygen may be released to your cells and tissues.