Hyperventilation and irregular breathing occur when the breathing rate or tidal volume removes more carbon dioxide from the body than it can produce. As a result, less carbon dioxide will be dissolved in the blood, called hypocapnia. The body typically makes an effort to correct this through homeostasis, but if this fails or is interfered with, the blood pH can rise, which can cause respiratory alkalosis. Dizziness, tingling in the lips, hands, or feet, headache, weakness, fainting, and seizures are some signs and symptoms of pulmonary alkalosis. Carpopedal spasms, a fluttering and contraction of the hands and feet, may occur in severe cases.
Physiological stress, anxiety or panic disorder, high altitude, head injury, stroke, respiratory conditions like asthma, pneumonia, or hyperventilation syndrome, cardiovascular issues like pulmonary embolisms, anemia, an improperly calibrated medical respirator, and unfavorable drug reactions are some of the factors that can cause or sustain hyperventilation. Hyperventilation can also be caused purposely to generate an altered state of consciousness. Examples include the choking game, breathwork, and attempts to prolong breath-hold dives.
Causes of hyperventilation
A variety of circumstances can cause hyperventilation. Anxiety, panic, jitters, or stress are the leading causes of this syndrome. It frequently manifests as a panic attack.
Additional factors include;
- Utilizing stimulants
- Substance abuse (aspirin overdose, for example)
- Extreme pain
- Contamination of the lungs
- Lung conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Problems of the heart, like a heart attack
- Ketoacidosis in diabetics (a complication of high blood sugar in people with type 1 diabetes)
- Head trauma
- Flying to altitudes higher than 6,000 feet
- Respiratory distress syndrome
Symptoms of hyperventilation
Included in the symptoms are;
- Unsteadiness or faintness
- Breathing difficulty
- Bloating, belching, and dry mouth
- Fragility, bewilderment
- Disruptions in sleep
- Tingling and numbness in your mouth or your arms
- Hands and foot muscle spasms, chest pain, and palpitations
Treatment of hyperventilation
It’s crucial to make an effort to maintain composure when hyperventilating suddenly. It can be advantageous to have a coach present to guide you through the episode. The purpose of treatment during an attack is to raise your body’s carbon dioxide levels while trying to slow down your breathing.
Your healthcare professional will check you for any additional causes of excessive breathing.
You can take some action at home if your doctor has diagnosed anxiety, stress, or panic as the cause of your hyperventilation. You can discover methods to stop it from happening again and guard against more humiliating assaults from your friends, family, and others.
Suppose you start hyperventilating and raise the level of carbon dioxide in your blood. Your symptoms will mostly go away as a result. It can be accomplished in a variety of ways, such as:
- To help to calm your breathing, you can seek assurance from a friend or family member. You are doing OK, not having a heart attack, and won’t die are beneficial phrases. The speaker must maintain composure and speak in a loose, unhurried manner.
- Pursue your lips as if you were extinguishing a candle, and gently exhale through them.
Over time, you can stop over breathing by taking the following steps:
- Consult a mental health specialist to understand better and manage your condition.
- Try to relax by using methods like progressive muscle relaxation or meditation.
- Regularly moving around.
- Your doctor could suggest medication if these measures are insufficient to stop over breathing.
You should identify the cause of hyperventilation syndrome if you have it. A psychologist can help you to understand and treat your condition if you experience stress or worry.
You can better manage your illness by learning breathing exercises and stress reduction techniques.
Hyperventilation syndrome may also be effectively treated with acupuncture.
An alternative medical practice based on traditional Chinese medicine is acupuncture. It involves inserting tiny needles into specific body parts to encourage recovery. According to a preliminary study by Trusted Source, acupuncture can lessen the severity of hyperventilation and anxiety.
Your doctor might also recommend medication, depending on the severity. Examples of treatments for excessive breathing include;
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
To aid in preventing hyperventilation, you might practice breathing and relaxation techniques. These consist of the following;
- Deep belly breathing, whole body breathing, and alternate nostril breathing
- Tai chi, yoga, or qigong are examples of mind-body exercises.
Regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, running, cycling, etc., can also prevent hyperventilation.
If you notice any hyperventilation signs, keep your composure. To get your breathing back on track, use the at-home breathing techniques, but also make sure to visit your doctor.
Although hyperventilation is manageable, you might be dealing with deeper issues. Your doctor can help you pinpoint the issue’s origin and determine the best course of treatment.