Put simply, hyperventilation is something that causes you to breathe rapidly. This leads to an imbalance between the amount of oxygen you inhale and amount of carbon dioxide you exhale, which then results in the characteristics signs and symptoms of hyperventilating. This article will teach you what to do the next time you are hyperventilating.
More often than not, hyperventilation strikes when you are having an anxiety or panic attack — the fear that you are having can leave you breathing faster than usual, and usually without you knowing about it.
Because of hyperventilating, there are a number of other things that you may experience as well. Some of them include a rapid heart rate or palpitation, tightening of the chest, weakness, dizziness, confusion, lightheadedness, and tingling sensation in the face, arms, hands, legs and feet. According to medical doctors, all of these symptoms take place because of the fact that you end up having more carbon dioxide in your body than oxygen when you hyperventilate.
However, there are instances in which hyperventilation is a symptom of a medical condition, and some of them are those that involve the heart and lungs. Having an infection may cause you to hyperventilate, too.
Being seen by a doctor is important to determine whether or not hyperventilation is due to an underlying health problem that needs to be treated. But if all the other possible issues have been ruled out by your doctor, then it’s very much likely for your bouts of hyperventilation to be related to being nervous or feeling panicky.
The following are some of the things that you may do if you often find yourself hyperventilating:
Breathe Into a Paper Bag
Immediately, grab a paper bag and breathe into it — this will help ensure a more balanced exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. It’s not really a good idea to use a plastic bag because it’s a choking hazard. Take 6 to 12 normal breaths with a paper bag over your nose and mouth to deal with hyperventilation ASAP.
Calm Yourself Down
Due to the fact that you are hyperventilating because you are feeling anxious or panicky, it can be very beneficial for you to relax as soon as you start hyperventilating. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths instead of breathing in and out rapidly — it will only worsen the feeling that you cannot catch your breath.
Retrain the Way You Breathe
It’s also a good idea for someone who is prone to hyperventilating like you to practice proper breathing — it’s supposed to be done with the help of your belly and not your chest and shoulders. Place your hands over your belly and make sure that it expands each time you inhale. Do this on a regular basis to have your breathing retrained.
You should do your best to avoid or deal with things that can leave you hyperventilating. If you have a particular phobia, you may gradually get yourself accustomed to what you irrationally fear or seek the help of a specialist. Are you a smoker? Then ditching your habit can help in keeping hyperventilation at bay.
Exercise on a Regular Basis
Last but not least, it’s a good idea for you to have your regular dose of exercise to have your heart and lungs strengthened. If you have been sedentary for some time now, start with very mild exercises like walking or gardening for about 15 minutes, and then gradually increase both the duration and intensity as you get fitter.
JUST A FEW WORDS OF CAUTION: It’s not all the time that hyperventilation is caused by an anxiety or a panic attack. Make sure that you consult a doctor if you hyperventilate very often as it may be a symptom of a serious underlying condition that requires identification and treatment.
Got family members or friends who hyperventilate because of having anxious thoughts or being panicky? Then share this article on social media to let them know how to deal with hyperventilation at home.