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Hyperventilation

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

What is hyperventilation?

Hyperventilation is breathing that is faster than normal. Hyperventilation may be caused by anxiety, stress, or panic. Other causes include medicines, imbalances in the chemicals in your body, and too much caffeine.

What other signs or symptoms might I have with hyperventilation?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or feeling faint
  • Numbness and tingling around the mouth, hands, and feet
  • Anxiety
  • Weakness

How is hyperventilation diagnosed and treated?

Your healthcare provider will do a physical exam. He or she will ask you about your symptoms and your health. He or she may change your medicines if any medicine is causing you to hyperventilate. You may need to have a chemical imbalance treated. You may also need any of the following:

  • Therapy may help you manage the stress or anxiety that is causing your hyperventilation. A therapist can help you learn about the stressors that cause you to hyperventilate. He or she can help you find other ways to manage your response to stress, such as deep breathing, relaxing muscles, or meditation. Do not use the home remedy of breathing into a paper bag. This can cause a dangerous lack of oxygen.
  • Antianxiety medicine may help you feel calm and relaxed.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You have chest pain.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You feel like you are going to faint.

When should I call my doctor?

  • Your symptoms do not get better, or they get worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.