A comparison between patients with dysfunctional breathing and patients with asthma

Clin Respir J. 2008 Apr;2(2):86-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-699X.2007.00036.x.


Introduction: The term dysfunctional breathing (DB) has been introduced to describe patients who display a divergent breathing pattern and have breathing problems that cannot be attributed to a specific medical diagnosis such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or sensory hyper-reactivity.

Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate similarities and differences in patients with DB, and patients with well-controlled asthma regarding health-related quality of life, anxiety, depression, sense of coherence (SOC), hyperventilation and effects on daily life.

Methods: Twenty-five consecutive patients with DB, and 25 age- and sex-matched patients with asthma (ages 20-73 years) participated in the study. The diagnosis of DB was based on the presence of a dysfunctional breathing pattern and at least five symptoms associated with DB.

Results: The group with DB had lower health-related quality of life (short form 36): vitality (mean) 47 vs 62, social functioning 70 vs 94 and role emotional 64 vs 94 (P < 0.05) than the asthmatic group. The DB group also had a higher prevalence of anxiety (56% vs 24%) and a lower SOC (134 vs 156) (P < 0.05). Hyperventilation, defined according to the Nijmegen symptoms questionnaire, was observed in 56% of patients with DB vs 20% in the asthma group (P = 0.02).

Conclusions: The results of the study indicate that patients with DB are more disabled than patients with well-controlled asthma. There is a great need for more knowledge about breathing symptoms of a dysfunctional nature, to be able to identify and manage these patients adequately.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Dyspnea / physiopathology*
  • Dyspnea / psychology*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperventilation / epidemiology
  • Hyperventilation / etiology
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires