High rate of respiratory illness admissions in South Australia’s hospitals

A report recently published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed the rate of hospital admissions for patients with a respiratory illness in the south east of South Australia is among the highest in the country. Hospitalisation rates for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were higher in inland and rural areas of Australia in 2007-10.

Asthma hospitalisation rates were also higher in some of Queensland’s coastal areas, in the south-east corner of South Australia and in the southern part of Western Australia, while higher hospitalisation rates for those with COPD are seen in the Northern Territory and the north-west corner of Western Australia.

The Institute’s Nigel Harding says it’s not known exactly why admission rates are up to three times higher than average in some areas, but “we know remoteness has a contribution, also indigenous status.”

“Some of the reasons we know are a factor but haven’t had the opportunity to look into include smoking…there are pollution concerns, pollutions known to trigger asthma and allergic triggers as well.”

Read a summary of the report online, ‘Geographic distribution of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease hospitalisations in Australia: 2007-08 to 2009-10

Read more about how POWERbreathe breathing training can help those breathing problems, including asthma and COPD, by exercising your breathing muscles to become stronger and more resilient to fatigue by increasing their stamina. However if you’re already using POWERbreathe because you have a breathing problem, then please leave a comment here on the POWERbreathe Forum, as we’d love to hear from you.

Foods and Spices for Respiratory Infections

One of our most popular blogs is ‘Foods for keeping your lungs healthy’, so we thought we’d give it an update and keep you posted with new information coming through that looks at how seven everyday foods and spices could help those with breathing problems avoid respiratory infection during the cold, winter months.

Please note however that this is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please always seek advice from your physician or health provider regarding a medical condition.


Echinacea is now one of the most popular supplements in Europe for fighting respiratory infections such as the common cold. Evidence shows that while it doesn’t prevent you getting a cold, it might help as a treatment in reducing the severity of cold and flu symptoms.


There appears to be evidence that elderberry boosts the production of some immune cells and may also unblock the flu virus’s ability to spread. Elderberry ranks among the most effective remedies for treating respiratory illness. In fact a study published in the journal ‘Phytochemsitry’ (2009) showed black elderberry extract to be at least 68% effective against swine flu (H1N1).


Garlic has been used for centuries as an immune booster and natural remedy for respiratory disorders. It contains medicinal compounds, including allicin and sulphur-containing compounds that ward of disease. One systematic review study found that fewer people taking a garlic supplement went on to have a cold when compared to people taking a placebo. Garlic is used quite a lot in cooking, but if you’re not keen on the taste, you can also buy it in supplement form.


Because ginger is packed with antiviral compounds, it’s excellent at preventing as well as treating respiratory ailments as it ‘disinfects’ the body. And ginger is so easy to add into your diet, as a tea or simply added freshly chopped to your food.


Oregano, more specifically oil of oregano has been shown to work well at treating respiratory illness after it has already developed, and is considered a potent antibiotic and antiviral herb. Be careful and always check side effects and interactions.

Vitamin D

It has come to light recently (pardon the pun) that we in the UK are lacking vitamin D. The low levels of sunlight combined with covering ourselves in sun protection cream when the sun does come out, have resulted in this vitamin D deficiency. Such low levels have been shown to cause chronic illness, including respiratory illness.

You can learn more about government advice on vitamin D supplementation by visiting Pulse – At the heart of general practice since 1960

Vitamin C

As children we’ve all been told to eat an orange as it contains vitamin C which is a powerful nutrient for boosting immunity and warding off colds. There was a study conducted in Finland (2004) which found that respiratory patients who took vitamin C supplements were less likely to develop respiratory infections including pneumonia and the common cold. Try to take natural vitamin C that comes from ‘superfoods’ such as acerola cherry.

You can also help keep your lungs healthy by making them stronger and more resistant to fatigue, which in turn could help them fight off infection. POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training exercises your breathing muscles, improving their strength and stamina.

If you have a respiratory condition, such as asthma or COPD, then you could benefit from using POWERbreathe Level 1 (LR). It features an adjustable, light resistance for you to breathe against, and as your breathing strength improves, you simply turn up the resistance. Choose from the following models:

Everyone can benefit from stronger breathing muscles, not just people with breathing problems, and there is a POWERbreathe to suit everyone. We’ve listed the models above that would best suit people with breathing difficulties, and for those who don’t have a breathing problem you can choose from:

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If you found this article useful, please leave a comment on the blog. We can also be followed on Twitter and you can also like us on Facebook.

Top breathing exercises for runners

Respiratory SymptomRunning is a form of aerobic exercise. Quite literally, ‘aerobic’ means ‘with oxygen’. We need to breathe to get oxygen into the lungs.  Although this sounds obvious, some runners have a shallow or laboured breathing style.  However, there are some cases where this style of breathing results in severe muscle cramps, side stitches, poor performance or premature fatigue. Not only that, shallow breathing can also result in anxiety, which can be counter-productive if you run for relaxation. Anxiety also causes physical tension which can result in a loss of energy – resulting in less energy for your workout.

Deep Breathing

The majority of runners only use the upper two thirds of their lung capacity. However, diaphragmatic breathing, which fills the lower part of the lungs, can increase a runner’s aerobic capacity, reduce stress and even help to eliminate the dreaded runner’s cramps.

Deep breathing exercises can be performed prior to a run or during a run. However, depending on when they are performed, there is a slight variation in technique. Prior to a run, take a deep breath in through the nose and hold for five counts. Then, slowly release the breath through the mouth. Holding the breath during a run is not recommended. Simply breathe in for five counts, and then breathe out for five counts. Keep in mind that it is not always easy to breathe through the nose while running. If this is the case, go ahead and breathe through the mouth.

Many runners do not realise that while they run, they are holding tension in their shoulders, wrists, hands and jaws. The exhalation phase of the deep breathing exercise is a good time to release this tension. As you exhale, you can shake out your hands, roll your shoulders and open your mouth to relax your jaw.

Rhythmic Breathing
Although rhythmic breathing may be difficult to master, it can be an excellent way to coordinate your breathing patterns with your running movements. In fact, elite runners use this method as a means of ensuring an even rhythm to their running. Most elite athletes use a 2-to-2 breathing rhythm. This means that they take two steps per inhale, and two steps per exhale. At the end of the race, they might switch to a 2-to-1 rhythm, which involves a two-count inhalation followed by one-count exhalation.

The Cleansing Breath
When you wake up feeling congested, it may be difficult to motivate yourself for a run. Provided that you are not seriously ill, the cleansing breath can open your sinuses and clear out congestion, which might make it easier to go for a run.

The cleansing breath is borrowed from yoga. Use the two middle fingers of your left hand to close off your right nostril. Breathe in for four counts through your left nostril. Then, use your thumb to close the nostril. Hold the breath for four counts, and then release your fingers from your right nostril, and let the breath out for eight counts.

Repeat the process on the right nostril, using your right hand to close off the left nostril. After you’ve repeated the exercise a few times, you might want, and in fact be able to blow your nose.

Warming up your breathing muscles

These breathing techniques for running will help with your running performance, but don’t forget that you also need to warm-up your breathing muscles before a run, just as you warm –up your other muscles to help prevent injury. Warming up your breathing muscles can help to eliminate excessive breathlessness during the start of your run, and help you get into a natural breathing rhythm. Inspiratory muscle training targets your breathing muscles and is ideal for a pre-run warm-up and to help improve running performance.

Quarter of Team GB Suffer Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA)

It’s 2012 and the year of the London Olympics. The London Evening Standard reports that 25% of Team GB is suffering from exercise-induced asthma (EIA). Such athletes include swimmers Rebecca Adlington and Jo Jackson, as well as, Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins. Also, marathon runner Paula Radcliffe and footballer Craig Bellamy. And defending Olympic rowing champions Pete Reed and Tom James experience symptoms of EIA too.

Can asthma sufferers exercise?

Well, yes. Asthma UK recommend people with asthma participate in exercise. This is because it improves lung function and can help you manage your symptoms.

EIA is high among elite athletes

It seems endurance sports, such as long-distance running, cross-country skiing and cycling are the most likely activities to cause problems for people with exercise-induced asthma and inspiratory stridor. A high-pitched, wheezing sound when breathing-in is indicative of inspiratory stridor.

A case study of inspiratory stridor

A Case Report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looks at Inspiratory Muscle Training: a simple cost-effective treatment for inspiratory stridor. It describes the support given to a British elite athlete in the build-up to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

The athlete had been complaining of breathing symptoms during high intensity training. Because of this they couldn’t manage to complete their training sessions. Consequently, they experienced a reduction in performance. The athlete then undertook a gold-standard test for diagnosing exercise-induced asthma (EIA). The EVH challenge is a 6-min test during which the athlete breathes a cold, dry gas at very high ventilation rates. After the test their airway function is compared against normal resting airway function.

Following consultation with a sports physician and physiologist, a diagnosis of inspiratory stridor was given. The advice was to implement a course of inspiratory muscle training (IMT).

Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) as a treatment

The course of IMT used a POWERbreathe device and required 30 loaded breaths, twice daily, five times per week for 11 weeks.

The athlete reported a sudden fall in symptoms and was able to complete high intensity training without symptoms. This case shows that IMT is a suitable cost-effective intervention for athletes who present with inspiratory stridor.

Breathing difficulty, symptoms and treatment

Respiratory SymptomIf you are someone who suffers from shortness of breath, have trouble breathing or find you have to put in more effort to breathe, then you probably have a respiratory illness or some form of lung disease such as emphysema, COPD or asthma.  Whether you are resting, exercising or simply lying flat, you can suffer breathing difficulty symptoms.  If you can pinpoint the triggers that cause these breathing problems then you can find out what the underlying cause is.

Symptoms contributing to breathing difficulty

So what are the symptoms? If you have severe breathing problems then the most common symptoms are rapid respiratory rate, continuous wheezing and nasal flaring. Anyone who suffers from severe breathing problems will place extra strain on the neck and chest muscles to breathe.  For example, an asthma sufferer will experience breathing difficulty with wheezing while someone who suffers from a heart condition will find they experience breathing problems when they exercise.

Treatment for breathing difficulties

Breathing conditions are treated differently. It all depends on what the underlying cause is for the breathing problem you have. Many treatments are available – some medications and some drug-free treatments.  An inspiratory muscle trainer can help with any breathing problems you may have and is a suitable aid for COPD treatment as it exercises and strengthens the muscles you use to breathe. Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) is scientifically proven to benefit patients with respiratory illness.


The Telegraph – Do breathing exercises help with long-term asthma?

POWERbreathe MedicThe Telegraph online lifecoaches looked at health tips for long-term asthma sufferers.

The question of how effective breathing exercises would be for long-term asthma sufferers was raised and it was suggested that some people have found the Buteyko breathing technique helpful in reducing the level of symptoms.

For those asthma sufferers whose symptoms may be brought on by exercise, our very own POWERbreathe was suggested as a way of preventing this by exercising the inspiratory muscles (your breathing muscles) to reduce breathlessness.

If you have asthma and are using the POWERbreathe Medic or another POWERbreathe model to help relieve your asthma symptoms then we’d love to hear from you and share your experience with others. Please simply leave a comment here. Thank you.

Love your lungs and breathe for life

Love Your LungsLung disease is a condition or disease in which the lung function is impaired.  Without lungs, humans will not be able to breathe correctly. Our lungs open the doors to life as they provide us with oxygen and remove the carbon dioxide from our bodies.

Our lungs are constantly in contact with the outside air and the internal body environment which means they are susceptible to disease. In the USA alone COPD is the fourth leading cause of death. It has been predicted that by 2020 COPD will become the leading cause of death in the USA. Lung disease affects many people but it is also the number one killer in babies less than a year old.

With the cold weather upon us many of us try and keep indoors to stay warm and illness free. However the cold weather is a nightmare for anyone that suffers from respiratory illness such as chronic lung illness, COPD and asthma. The cold weather can be the cause of severe asthma attacksand can also aggravate existing lung conditions.

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These problems can be avoided by keeping our lungs nice and healthy. Here is some useful advice to keep your lungs disease free:

If you are a smoker, get some help in quitting

If you don’t smoke then be grateful and don’t be tempted to start.  Anyone who smokes a pipe, cigarette or cigar is inhaling more than 4,000 chemicals from the smoke.

Second hand smoke should be avoided

Smoking is harmless on its own, but breathing in second hand smoke is just as bad as smoking yourself.

Make sure you wash your hands to reduce the risk of infection

You may not know but around 80 percent of common respiratory illnesses such as common colds and flu are spread by our hands.

Get vaccinated regularly

Over recent years the flu vaccination has been recommended for anyone that wants it. It is also recommended you have the pneumonia vaccination if you are 65 or over. The pneumonia vaccination should also be given to those with chronic health conditions such as COPD.

Avoid anything that will trigger your lung disorder

People who suffer from asthma, COPD or emphysema should avoid anything that can trigger the illness. This can be anything that causes the chest to tighten, causes you to wheeze or suffer shortness of breath symptoms or coughing attacks.

Adhere to your diagnosis guidelines

If your diagnosis tells you that you have COPD, asthma or emphysema then it is important you understand how important breathing medication is and how often you need to take your medication.

Understand your symptoms and talk to your Doctor

It is very common for people to ignore symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, constant coughing and chest tightness. If you experience any of these then speak to your Doctor immediately.

We only get one set of lungs so it is extremely important we know how to look after them. Following these tips can help us cope if we have respiratory conditions such as COPD and asthma. If you do suffer from COPD then your doctor can recommend COPD treatment advice which will help you with your condition as well as improve the quality of your life. This treatment may involve the use of a breathing trainer.

POWERbreathe attend the Pulse Respiratory Update Seminar

PulseOn 26th January, 2011 the POWERbreathe Medical Division attended the Pulse Respiratory Update Seminar at American Square Conference Centre, London.

We attended this event to find out about the up to date practices used to ensure optimal care for patients. Our main focus was  the new COPD outcomes strategy. The event was a one-day seminar  about the latest clinical developments, guidelines and innovations in the management of respiratory disease.

General Practitioners from around the UK attended this 1 day master class course on respiratory conditions, diagnosis and treatments.  The POWERbreathe exhibition space was busy as usually, attracting lots of attention and interest for curious GP’s wanting to learn and promote the use of POWERbreathe Medical in the patient groups.  As you can see in the pictures,  Jon is explaining to crowds of GP’s the benefits of POWERbreathe and that as a GP you can prescribe the POWERbreathe Medic.  A full day of education, education, education for the attending GP’s many of whom have gone away enlightened by the clincial benefits that POWERbreathe can bring!


David Vinall – I had no idea how much Powerbreathe would change my life

I am using my new Powerbreathe Fitness Plus and it is a great help with my fitness training.  There is a Gym nearby which is a great help; various classes are available and good equipment to use, which is all helping my training schedule.  I am also cycling, so things are going O.K.

Looking back, my love of cycling has helped me remain fairly fit for someone who has had asthma since I was 2 years old, (I am now 74!!!) and it is this interest in cycling that lead me to discover Powerbreathe!

Mary (my wife) and I were out collecting shoeboxes for Link Romania and were headed for North Devon.  As we approached Bridgewater I remembered that there is a fantastic cycle shop in Bridgewater called St John Street Cycles, so we went in and had a good look round, this was November 2002.  It was here that I picked up a leaflet about Powerbreathe, read it and subsequently bought my first Powerbreathe.

Initially I had no idea how much Powerbreathe would change my life. On a normal day I was using Ventolin or Becotide inhalers and Ventolin tablets 3 times a day, on a good day twice a day.  My January New Years Resolution 2003 was to conscientiously use my new Powerbreathe every day twice a day.  By mid February 2003 I was feeling much better and was not relying so much on medication and life was much better, in fact by Feb/March I was regularly able to go without medication for a day, sometimes days and I was enjoying life!

In the summer of 2003 we were lucky enough to be able to buy a camper van and have been using it ever since.  My medication has changed and reflects improvements in dealing with my asthma; I now use Seretide 125 with an aerochamber as and when required.

When the new Powerbreathe model came out I bought one, it is such an improvement on the original model and my health continued to improve, as you know I am now using my new Powerbreathe Fitness to help me get fit for a Sponsorship Cycle Challenge from Romania to Moldova.  In the old days although I have done some rides like the London to Brighton I could not have committed to this latest Challenge.

I am totally convinced that I am fitter and can enjoy a more enjoyable and rewarding lifestyle thanks to my Powerbreathe, I am really pleased that I picked up that leaflet all those years ago.

On many occasions when talking with people with breathing problems Powerbreathe has been recommended and I definitely know that one man immediately bought one for his wife on email.  I definitely recommend Powerbreathe – it could change your life, it did for me!

Thank you for a wonderful product.
Kind regards
David Vinall

If  POWERbreathe is helping you stay in control of your asthma or is an adjunct to your COPD treatment,  then please leave a comment and share your experience – we’d love to hear from you.

Jo Stocks starts the POWERbreathe road

Joanne Stocks PhotoHi, I’m Jo and to celebrate turning the ripe old age of 35 and becoming a veteran this year, I have decided to challenge myself to run all the World Marathon Majors: Boston; London; Berlin; Chicago and New York. Although I am running this for personal achievement, I have also decided to raise money and awareness for asthma.

I have chosen to do this as my PhD was in respiratory medicine focusing on asthma research and I suffer from asthma myself. My asthma is mainly exercise induced and it does affect my racing in the heat during the Summer, during the Spring thanks to pollen and also in the cold, when it caused me to seek medical help during my last attempt at the New York marathon. However I still carried on running and for me exercising with asthma is all about managing it correctly through medication, training and listening to your body.

I also teach a number of sports to children and young people who miss out on participating in activities through not managing their asthma successfully or because their asthma will prevent them from taking part so through my marathon challenge I wish to inspire people with asthma to participate in sports.

Although asthma has never stopped me from participating in sports, I often feel annoyed during races when it is my breathing that is holding my back rather than my legs not being able to carry me faster. So when I heard about Powerbreathe I was excited to try it.

We decided that as I already train a lot I would try the Heavy Resistance (Sports Performance Plus model) so there is a greater potential for improvement. When my Powerbreathe arrived at the beginning of January, I was so excited to start using it I ignored the instructions ‘if you are suffering from a cold sinusitis or respiratory tract infection don’t use until symptoms have disappeared’. Level 1 of the ‘Heavy Model’ is equivalent to about level 2.5 of the ‘Light Model’. I began at level zero and straight away my ears popped similar to when I try to clear them when scuba diving. I then decided I had better follow the instructions and wait till I had recovered from my cold and infection before inflicting heavy training on my chest.

My peak flow on day one was 430L/min still lower than I have achieved in the past but better than during my cold. I began at level zero and managed about 25 breaths. I was wearing the nose clip and my ears were crackling a bit like they were going to pop again so I stopped. Over the next few days I have learnt how to use the Powerbreathe more effectively. I was inhaling deeply then breathing out shallowly so was almost hyperventilating within 20 breaths.

Breathing more evenly I could master 30 breaths easily, so took it up to level 0.5 and now have been increasing it by a quarter of a turn each time I comfortably achieve 30 breaths. Today I am almost at Level 1 and my peak flow is 470 L/min. I don’t want to attribute all the improvement to the POWERbreathe as obviously I am still recovering from the cold, but I am feeling I can breathe deeper during my training up hills and only once needed to take my inhaler mid run. Looking forward to more improvements next week.

You can follow me and my marathon challenge on my website or on Twitter @MajorRunning