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Discussion Starter #1
I was wondering, my next door neighbor has asthma and has been saying that his lungs start burning when he's playing his tenor. He's just a beginner, but even I never noticed my lungs burning when playing. Any advice on this?
 

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HI have just attended a week of Buteyko therapy which is meant to address respiritory problems such as asthma. As well as a host of other ailments. (I attended initially to support my wife who suffers from asthma, but believe there could be merit to the theory and the treatment).

Clinical trials have found it to be effective but the practitioners claim that due to it being a drug free treatment, (in fact blaming the drugs for some problems) research has stalled because the drug companies are normally the ones to cough up cash (pardon the pun) to fund research.

The practioners claim the source of conditions such as asthma lie with the individual having an incorrect balance of carbon dioxide being held in the lungs. CO2 funtions as a bronchodiolater, but, possibly more importantly, is essential to the Bohr effect which facilitates the release of O2 from haemoglobin as is needed by all cells of our body. 3% - 6.5% CO2 is apparently the amount which is maintained. 3% however is the very minimum
and the practitioners of Buteyko claim that at levels like 3% the body is in danger. When a person hyperventilates through anxiety or an allergic trigger the body reacts by constricting the airways so CO2 levels do not drop below critical levels. They also claim that chronic overbreathing or 'hyperventilation' is responsible for an individual having a CO2 content as low as 3%. This was supported by findings in the clinical trials which found that 90% of the asthmatics studied breathed at least 3 times the amount of air that is required, (the required amount is meant to be about 4.5 ltrs per minute). The convincing part for me was that the only exercise asthma sufferers are able to do relatively easily is swimming, which is a forced regulation of over breathing.

Does saxophone lead us to overbreath? Possibly, definately if the person has poor technique or breath support. I asked the practitioner about this and he responded that playing as much as I do would not assist the goal of the treatment, which is to return breathing to a slower rate and increase CO2 levels. He did state that if I managed to limit overbreathing at all other times, (not playing sax) my playing would eventually benefit. Time will tell.

Your neighbour must be unnerved by the thought that playing could be a trigger for a potentially fatal condition like asthma. Has he seen a doctor and how does he manage his asthma?

p.s. sorry for the length of post. I am in no way connected to or encouraging Buteyko but think it is an interesting idea and if it is valid could explain your friends problem
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Okay thanks, I was just wondering since I don't remember my lungs ever "burning" when it came to when I was first learning to play the sax. (I started with Alto) then again I never have had Asthma or any allergies that would mess with my breathing as far as I know...
 

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I'm asthmatic, play the saxophone and don't have any problems. I think that playing the saxophone and the relevant breathing techniques required are beneficial for asthma related problems.
I have had asthma badly and needed to go to the hospital and the breathing exercises have helped calm my breathing as much as the medication. After being to the hospital for asthma a few years ago I had to then see a GP the next day, and there i blew the highest peak flow measure he had ever seen, let alone from a person who had an asthma attack the day before.
I believe that saxophone is as great for asthma and it in no way inhibits my playing.
 

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I have had chronic asthma since I was about 6 months of age...whenever your immunity finally kicks in and goes hay wire.

As a person that use to make several trips to the emergency room each year when I was in my youth and teens I can testify that asthma is significantly improved with the saxophone.

I've been playing since I was eleven and now I'm 32 going on 33, but it wasn't until I was about 16 and my practicing really moved into hours everyday that my lung test drastically improved. By the time I was 23 and practicing about six hours a day and sometimes 10 hours a day on weekends I was able to blow at well over a 150% of normal lung function. The lady that would adminster the test would have to tell me to stop because it was proving pointless after so long.

Having asthma can affect your playing, but your playing should only improve your asthma.

There are many things that can contribute to your asthma. You need to keep your house clean, including your bedding, you should live in a house without any pets as most asthmatics have allergies to animal dander....cats being the worst. I once got scratched by a cat and spent a week in the ICU when I was in 6th grade as my lungs were on the verge of completely clamping off. It's a really downer to also go into clubs where people smoke, I have to avoid these as well. Asthma is kind of like diabetes in that you have a choice to make about how diligent you're going to be with your own care. Sometimes you feel like a bubble boy because I can't go into peoples houses if they have pets as I'll have an attack.

Aside from that I play and practice the sax everyday. Work out everyday cycling, running, swimming and lifting weights. I use to do half iron man tri's, and currently race in cycling. I made the choice to fight against this disease and do everything normal people do, with a few limitations. Still have to take a puff off my inhaler before I workout and if the air is cold I'll usually have to grab for it once during my workout. Allergy medication is also necessary during the summer months with pollen counts high.

I'd say the worst thing about this disease for me is that some of my family and friends have pets and I can't go in their house for any length of time. My dad and his wife have lots of dogs and a cat and for that reason I haven't seen him in years. Some would like to think it psycological as he has accused me of in the past, but I've been in other peoples houses and then a few hours later had to be taken to the emergency room for a breathing treatment and shot of adrenalin in the tush then home to sleep for 2 days straight. Later I'll ask them if they had pets and they'll tell me they have a cat....the kiss of death for me.

Sometimes if my lungs feel tight, I'll reach for the horn and after a few hours of blowing my lungs really open up and I feel fine.
 
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