Hyperventilation, or “over breathing”, is a condition in which a person breathes too quickly of deeply. At some point all of us have probably experienced an episode of this, most usually during emotional stress or anxiety. Hyperventilation is most often caused by stress, panic, or anxiety although it may result from medical conditions such as asthma, excessive bleeding, a lung condition, a heart condition, diabetic patients, or even an infection. Side effects of certain drugs or medications have also been known to trigger hyperventilation. Some other causes of sudden hyperventilation include fever, intense exercise, or head injuries. Over breathing can cause imbalances in the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your blood. These imbalances can make you feel breathless, dizzy, light-headed, confused or weak, have a rapid heartbeat. It also can lead to numbness or tingling in your hands or feet, fainting, and sore chest muscles. Along with rapid breathing, other symptoms of hyperventilation may include abdominal bloating, difficulty sleeping, dry mouth, or muscle spasms. Chronic (recurring) hyperventilation may be an ongoing problem for people with other diseases, such as asthma, emphysema, or lung cancer. Hyperventilation can happen to anyone although women experience hyperventilation more often than men. Most people who have problems with hyperventilation are 15 to 55 years old. Usually, adults breathe at eight to 16 breaths per minute. A breathing rate exceeding 16 breaths per minute is characteristic of either hyperventilation or tachypnea (rapid shallow breathing). While tachypnea and hyperventilation are sometimes considered to be the same, hyperventilation is usually related to stress or anxiety. In many cases, hyperventilation can be controlled by learning proper breathing techniques by pursing your lips or breathing through a single nostril or by seeking reassurance from nearby people or reducing stress may help you cope with anxiety or panic....
References: Merriam Webster Incorporated (2011). Medical dictionary. Retrieved July 14, 2011 from http://www.merriam-webster.com
WebMD (2011). Medical information website. Retrieved July 14, 2011 from http://www.webmd.com/ a-to-z-guides/hyperventilation-topic-overview
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