A year ago I invested some time to attend a course that I believe could be a stepping stone towards helping humanity become more spiritually conscious. However, that is another blog-post. But this course also taught me a practical way o help one of my patients finally resolve her mysterious chronic intermittent sinus congestion!
I have always thought that breath holding was something that kids do when they get over-stimulated. But I since learned from this professional course taught by Dr Rosalba Courtney that there are some therapeutic benefits in this technique involving breath holding. But before you try this for yourself make sure you seek the advice of an appropriately trained health professional. Inappropriate breath-holding techniques and chronic breath holding can lead to worsening of asthma and increases in blood pressure that could be dangerous.
This particular patient came to see me with symptoms of fatigue and a chronic dry cough. She was also perimenopausal at the age of 50 and had been placed on hormonal therapy by her doctor to manage her night sweats. She was diagnosed with asthma 5 years ago whilst living in Shanghai and was placed on steroid inhalers. She moved to Hong Kong about 2.5 years ago and noticed that her sinuses consistently became congested leading to more coughing at night which disrupted her sleep. She reported that her fitness when walking uphill had deteriorated. She had seen her respiratory, heart and ENT physicians for a full workup and was given treatment for high cholesterol and antibiotics for sinus infection. However, the fatigue and cough remained and she noticed it was often triggered at night when her nose suddenly became blocked.
She has a mild allergy to dust mite and in addition this she was also living in a moldy home. Once this was cleared her fitness and exercise tolerance improved but she still had recurrent nasal blockages and the anti-histamines that she was prescribed didn't always work.
Controlled breath holding can increase nitric oxide in the nasal passages. Nasal breathing as opposed to mouth breathing concentrates the amount of nitric oxide in the upper airways. This is important in improving the health of the airways by improving blood flow, hydration and the microbiome of the passages. This has been shown in some cases to alleviate nasal obstruction.
After practising controlled breath holding for 2 weeks this patient no longer had nasal blockages that stopped her from sleeping through the night.
Here's some further information on Dr Courtney's explanation on nasal breathing - it is a bit more technical but has the relevant references and precautions:
And the video on how to practise breath holding to unblock your nose: