Hyperventilation – Anxiety & Panic


I have written in past articles about shortness of breath. Hyperventilation is somewhat different to shortness of breath. Let me explain.

Shortness of breath is shallow short quick breaths. Hyperventilation is quick “deep” breaths. The biggest cause of hyperventilation is anxiety. Of course there can be other underlying causes; an emotional outburst can cause hyperventilation.

I experienced hyperventilation a few times in my anxiety and panic days and I can assure the experience is quite frightening. It was usually triggered by a thought, often in fear that I was unable to breathe.

In the old days hyperventilation was treated with the old “paper bag” trick. In some places this method is still practiced. I have read many contradicting arguments on the “paper bag” method and personally I just prefer not to use nor recommend this method to anyone.

I do have a much simpler method of calming hyperventilation down and it doesn’t require carrying anything around.

Now first off, if you are the person witnessing someone hyperventilate, try to reassure and comfort the patient. If you can remove the “fear” or anxious” provoking thing, do so. I have a mate that is absolutely petrified of cockroaches, every time she would see one she would begin screaming and hyperventilate. Simple fix, I’d remove the cockroach from her sight.

Certainly don’t make fun of the person who is hyperventilating, no matter how little or petty it may seem to you, this is clearly not a “little” matter to the person suffering. Hyperventilating in “rare” cases can lead to passing out. So please consider the welfare of the patient.

Now get the patient to cover his/her mouth and nose with their hand, this way they can feel their breath against their hand so they know they’re definitely breathing. Get them to take much slower deep breaths until they calm down and resume normal breathing.

Note: Never self diagnose. Make sure you visit your local GP first. All material provided is for informational or educational purposes only. No content is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your doctor regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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