What Capnometry Biofeedback Technology Looks Like and Measures

In a follow up to my last video discussing the potency of Capnometry biofeedback technology for assessing and retraining client’s breathing, I discuss what this technology measures and what you will see on the screen as you are being measured.

Firstly, Capnometry is measuring the volume of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air that you are exhaling. In hospitals it is used to monitor a patient’s breathing, especially if they are unconscious or have undergone an anaesthetic or are in a coma. The graph starts to curve upwards at the beginning of exhalation (with a slight delay) as CO2 increases, and it curves downwards as exhalation ceases (again, with a slight delay).

The technology provides 2 measurements which give us great information on breathing efficiency for assessment and training:

1. Breathing rate per minute – ideally 8-10 bpm in adults at rest.

2. End-tidal carbon dioxide (ETCO2) – ideally 40mmHg. This is a measurement of the volume of CO2 in the lungs at the end of exhalation. This ETCO2 is essential for respiratory efficiency as it acts as a reservoir of CO2 that permeates back into the blood stream to maintain ideal levels of arterial CO2, which plays a major role in allowing the passage of oxygen from the air we inhale in the lungs, to the cells of the body for energy production. This process is based on the principles of the Bohr Effect and discussed in my last video/post. However, in short, without sufficient arterial CO2 levels. this process is impaired and we produce insufficient amounts of energy, which can lead to fatigue and many other symptoms of illness, including asthma, breathing difficulties, anxiety, sinusitis, snoring & sleep apnoea, headaches & migraines, memory problems, cognitive disturbance etc.

The beauty of this technique is that not only is it fantastic as an assessment of breathing efficiency (non-diagnostic), for breathing retraining it provides in the moment feedback about the efficacy of techniques and rhythms we implement to improve a client’s breathing to ideal, or optimal levels.

As such, we are able to find the best techniques and rhythms specific to each client, and therefore provide them with a specific, individualised breathing retraining program to remove symptoms of illness, improve quality of life and sleep, give them greater energy levels and relaxation, and improve performance.

Breathing as a function, and modality of health is as important and nutrition and exercise. In fact, it is more central than both of these, so it certainly should not be ignored, neglected, or taken for granted (as most of us do).

If you’d like your breathing assessed and to work out an ideal retraining program for your breathing, contact me via me website, www.timaltman.com.au, or email tim@timaltman.com.au.

Video: Capnometry Biofeedback Technology is Super Potent for Clinical Assessment & Training of Breathing.

After learning extensively about the science of breathing, and techniques for optimising breathing, implementing biofeedback technology called Capnometry, which us used in hospitals to monitor patients breathing, into my clinical work with breathing has seen my understanding of breathing function, and the best techniques for retraining breathing function to optimal levels skyrocket.

In clinic this technology is highly effective for assessing the efficiency of a client’s breathing based on breathing rate per minute (ideally 8-10 bpm), and end tidal carbon dioxide (ETCO2), or the amount of CO2 in the lungs at the end of exhalation (ideally at least 40mmHg).

The body regulates breathing based on arterial levels of CO2 predominantly, rather than arterial oxygen (O2). This is because the challenge with breathing is not getting enough oxygen in. We have heaps. In fact, at rest, we utilise less than one quarter of the O2 we inhale (the rest is exhaled), and we have heaps of oxygen stores in our blood stream (known as oxygen saturation levels, which are typically 97-99%).

The challenge is actually getting the oxygen we have in our blood stream, or that we inhale, into our cells for energy production (the main purpose of breathing). If we fail to do this, the consequences are fatal. CO2 plays a major role in this process. Rather than being a waste gas that we completely exhale, we store CO2 (as there’s only 0.03% in atmospheric air, so we can’t rely on this) as it is the limiting factor in determining breathing efficiency,

Based on the principles of the Bohr Effect, CO2 facilitates the passage of oxygen from our lungs to our cells for energy production. If CO2 levels are too low, we simply don’t get enough oxygen to our cells, so energy production is impaired, and survival is threatened. Conversely, if CO2 levels are too high, it upsets respiratory balance, and our body will increase breathing rate and volume to reduce levels. In order to maintain sufficient CO2 levels, our body stores CO2 in our lungs at the end of exhalation, known as end-tidal CO2, which then permeates back into the blood stream to maintain respiratory balance.

We definitely should not fully exhale all of the air in our lungs in order to maintain respiratory balance (at rest) – the exhale is simply a recoil of the diaphragm and lungs.

Unfortunately, without realising it, the vast majority of us breathe nowhere near ideal efficiency- we breathe twice as often as we should and with far too much volume.

This adversely affects our arterial CO2 levels, and therefore the balance in our respiratory system, and ultimately energy production. The consequence of this long term is that our body starts to produce symptoms of illness as a result of the body’s attempt to compensate for this inefficiency and restore balance. These symptoms include difficulties in breathing & asthma, anxiety, sinusitis, snoring & sleep apnoea, fatigue, digestive complaints, headaches & migraines, ADHD and many more.

Therefore this biofeedback technology is fantastic for assessing respiratory efficiency, and also in implementing techniques and rhythms to retrain breathing back to ideal, or functional levels. In so doing, with regular practice, clients experience greater energy levels, relaxation, and reduced symptoms of illness.

In addition, as clients can see significant differences on a screen of their baseline breathing efficiency and when they introduce optimal breathing techniques, so compliance of clients to their at home breath training improves significantly also.

Finally, as a result of measuring and observing the breathing of thousands of clients over the years, my understanding of breathing function and ideal techniques has grown exponentially.

If you’d like to have your breathing efficiency assessed , or learn how to breathe optimally, please contact me for a one on one clinic  appointment, or inline consultation.