Chest physiotherapy in asthma

N. Ambrosino, A. Meriggi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The clinical usefulness of chest physiotherapy techniques in bronchial asthma is still being discussed. Lung inflation techniques, such as incentive spirometry, voluntary deep breathing, intermittent positive pressure breathing (IPPB) and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), are used to increase lung volumes during acute attacks and to reduce atelectasis, but published studies have failed to document their usefulness in the treatment of asthma. Manoeuvres, such as postural drainage, manual or mechanical clapping/vibration of the chest wall and deep breathing, are designed to improve mucus clearance. Postural drainage and chest vibration appear to be effective for increasing sputum mobilization and expectoration, but these techniques should be used with caution in asthmatic patients, because they may induce bronchoconstriction and should be preceded by inhaled beta- agonists. The basic goals of breathing exercises are improvement in alveolar ventilation, strengthening of the respiratory muscles, and improvement in the cough mechanism. Again consistent studies in this field are lacking. There is widespread enthusiasm among the public for alternatives to conventional treatment, and sufficient interest from clinicians, especially general practioners, to make it important for the subject to be examined critically. Among other techniques, acupuncture, hypnosis and yoga have been specifically claimed to be effective in asthma. However, review of texts and original articles on this topic lead to the conclusion that there is no place for any alternative approach in the management of cases of acute asthma, but that in persistent asthma some patients could benefit from any of these therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-355
Number of pages3
JournalEuropean Respiratory Review
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Chest physiotherapy in asthma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this