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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hypnosis could help children with emotional breathing problems

Hypnosis could help children with emotional breathing problems

February 14, 9:13 AMCharlotte Health and Happiness ExaminerKathleen Blanchard RN

Children with breathing problems such as asthma and cystic fibrosis could benefit from hypnosis that can alleviate discomfort during procedures, and calm symptoms that have emotional components associated with respiratory disease.

Hypnosis, combined with regular medical treatment could help children with habitual cough that may experience feelings of shortness of breath or other uncomfortable sensations that could be emotional in origin.

In a paper published in Pediatric Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, Ran D. Anbar, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University, in Syracuse, NY suggests that hypnosis should be considered for children whose respiratory symptoms are brought about as the result of a mind-body component.

Children with asthma who hyperventilate, breathe noisily, cough disruptively, or otherwise have emotionally triggered respiratory symptoms could be calmed with hypnosis. Coughing out of habit or vocal cord dysfunction that produces a high pitched noise with breathing but can have psychological roots, found to be absent during sleep might be indicative that hypnosis can relieve symptoms of asthma of breathing difficulty triggered by emotions."Dr. Anbar has added hypnosis to our therapeutic toolbox.

When breathing problems have a large mind-body component, resolution with hypnosis can dramatically reduce the need for expensive testing and medications," says Harold Farber, MD, MSPH, Editor of Pediatric Asthma, Allergy Immunology, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Section of Pulmonology, at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX.

Hypnosis for children with asthma or other breathing disorders should always be performed by a medical professional warns Anbar. Only individuals with special training in hypnosis therapy should be considered to help alleviate respiratory symptoms of asthma in children triggered by emotions.

Hypnosis could produce physiologic that alleviate symptoms related to asthma and respiratory problems that include chest pain, or feelings that something is “stuck” in the throat, and hperventilation. The author suggests that hypnosis could be used before expensive testing for otherwise unexplained feelings of difficulty breathing in children by helping teach breathing techniques that could alleviate symptoms and produce physiologic changes related to emotional distress associated with asthma or cystic fibrosis.

Pediatric Asthma, Allergy, and ImmunologyDOI: 10.1089/pai.2009.0025



  1. interesting. i get this for asthma -- esp. if the coughing makes the child prone to hyperventilation. but it seems more out of place with cf. i do think it's true that some of us (kids especially) might cough in part out of habit or even some deep-seeded emotional reflex, and i agree that it can be uncomfortable or even distressing when it happens frequently. but with cf, i would think that the dangers of calming a cough through hypnosis would outweigh the benefits -- sure, it's annoying to have an emotional response to lying flat out on my back which seems to lead to coughing (i.e., i believe i will cough when lying on my back, and therefore the second i lie that way i seem to magically feel the need to cough), but coughing is GOOD for me, so i deal. i guess my point is that unless my cf child were experiencing anxiety attacks that were triggered by coughing, i would be pretty wary of anything that might reprogram the child's mind to avoid coughing.

    does that make sense? maybe i'm misreading or missing the point here.

  2. Piper you are ABSOULTELY right. I should have prefaced why I posted this article....

    I posted it as a comment on how hypnosis can be useful in stressful situations for those with health issues (mainly the first line of the article where it talks about medical procedures).

    I've seen other studies and work at the Children's Hospital near me when children with cancer will start throwing up prior to receiving their chemo treatment - I clear mind/body/anxiety issue. The Children's Hospital uses hypnosis to help the kids relax.

    So again I agree with your POV 100%... It was my fault for not clarifying why I posted this article. It was mainly for the overall thought of hypnosis helping with pain / fear in chronic medical conditions :)

  3. well in that case, i'm totally on board. i actually think hypnosis could offer people with any type of chronic disease a little relief from the stress. when i was little i started suddenly freezing up on my PFTs (they went from over 100 to like 60% in a matter of months) and it was clearly a mind/body issue b/c i was having anxiety about the box (ah the good old days when the box was the only option). my parents didn't use hypnosis, but they did get me therapy for the "mind" component of my disease, and not only did my PFTs go up but i also stopped having such anxiety around routine clinic appts. i think it's super important for parents of CFers to recognize that their kid has a SERIOUS disease, and on some the level the kind knows that and can feel it in his/her body. sugarcoating and pretending like CF (or the medical procedures that go along with it) shouldn't affect the child's emotions never helps anyone.

    thanks for posting this! i think this kind of stuff is fascinating.