Hyperventilation simply means breathing more air than the body needs for normal functioning.
Hyperventilation is usually not easily noticed and hence is referred to as Chronic Hidden
Hyperventilation. The over-breathing may arise from slight increase in the number of breaths
per minute, a slight increase in the volume per breath and habitual sighing, yawning, coughing,
mouth breathing, sneezing etc.
How do I recognize hyperventilation?
• Upper chest mainly used for breathing
• Very little diaphragmatic breathing
• Frequent sighing or yawning
• Rapid breathing
• Breathing erratically, fast with long pauses from time to time
• Inhalations & exhalations are not rhythmical
• Asthma inhaler does not give relief
• Peak flow readings don’t drop or only marginally
How do I know if I’m breathing incorrectly? Check your own breathing.
• Can you hear yourself breathe?
• Do you breathe through your mouth most of the time?
• Do you sigh, yawn, sneeze, wheeze or snore?
• Do you take a deep breath through the mouth before speaking?
• Do you pant, cough or blow your nose excessively?
• Do you wake up feeling tired with a headache?
• Do you wake at night?
• Do you feel your upper chest move when taking a breath?
• Do get short of breath?
• Do you get headaches, tiredness or dizziness?
• Do you suffer from lack of concentration or irritability?
Hyperventilation lowers carbon dioxide levels in the body and as a result:
• Haemoglobin, the oxygen carrier, forms a strong bond with oxygen, not releasing
sufficient oxygen to the tissues. This is called the Bohr Effect.
• The smooth muscle (involuntary) wrapped around airways& all hollow organs tightens &
spasms causing chest tightness, gut problems, impaired circulation and bladder
constriction among other reactions.
• Mast cells release more histamine, greatly increasing the body’s reaction to allergens or
irritants and more mucus is produced, inner linings of the airways swell narrowing them.
• Carbon dioxide losses cause increasing shift towards respiratory alkalosis, the normal pH
or acid/alkalinity of the body is changed affecting every chemical reaction.