Hyperventilation can be extremely stressful for the victim and alarming for witnesses as well. It is usually associated with anxiety or panic but can also be caused by some medications, some medical conditions, fever, or over-exertion. It can also be brought on voluntarily and this can be no less dangerous.
When hyperventilating, an individual breathes much more rapidly that is normal . They also breath more deeply with the result that carbon dioxide is rapidly exhaled, leaving the blood depleted.
The lack of carbon dioxide in the blood can may cause a variety of symptoms. These include the possibility of:
1. anxiety or a feeling of panic or doom,
2. chest pain,
3. numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or around the mouth and tongue,
4. a feeling of faintness or dizziness,
5. muscle spasms and cramps,
6. a feeling of tightness in the throat,
8. slurred speech, and
9. loss of consciousness, if the hyperventilation is severe.
It is obvious that some of the symptoms are similar to those of heart attack, stroke and head injury. For this reason it is always best to err on the side of caution and call for medical assistance if the symptoms cannot be relieved and also if an individual suffers repeated episodes of hyperventilation.
Home treatments for hyperventilation include:
A. sitting quietly and concentrating on slowing your breath or breathing only through the nose or through pursed lips
B. holding a paper bag over the nose and mouth and taking six to twelve easy breaths – pause briefly and then repeat the exercise – continue doing this for ten to fifteen minutes until breathing returns to normal
Do Not breath continuously into the bag, and do not do this if the victim suffers from any lung or heart problems or if the episode takes place at a high altitude.
If you are aware that you are beginning to breath more rapidly than usual, make a conscious effort to slow down your breathing, until the symptoms begin to dissipate. It is ideal to slow the breathing to one breath every five seconds or so until symptoms completely disappear.
Although brief spells of hyperventilation may not be dangerous, there may be more dangerous underlying causes. If the victim loses consciousness, there is always the possibility of dangerous injury due to falling.