Font Size
A
A
A

Hyperventilation (cont.)

Hyperventilation Symptoms

Sudden and everyday are the two forms of hyperventilation syndrome. In its everyday form, the overbreathing may be hard to detect. The sudden form comes on rapidly and has more intense symptoms. People with this syndrome may have stomach, chest, nervous system, and emotional complaints.

Hyperventilation syndrome may result in swallowing excessive air. This results in the following abdominal symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • Passing excess gas
  • Pressure sensation in the abdomen

Also, anxiety with increased air movement through the mouth can cause a dry mouth feeling.

Chemical changes can happen with overbreathing. Hyperventilation causes the carbon dioxide level in the blood to decrease. This lower level of carbon dioxide reduces blood flow to the brain, which may result in the following nervous system and emotional symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • A feeling of being outside yourself
  • Seeing images that aren't there
  • Feeling as if you can't breathe

Overbreathing can also cause the calcium levels to drop in your blood, which may result in the following nervous system symptoms:

  • Numbness and tingling (usually in both arms or around the mouth)
  • Spasms or cramps of the hands and feet
  • Muscle twitching

Many different factors can cause chest symptoms with hyperventilation syndrome. Normally, breathing is relaxed. If a person over breathes, the lungs become overinflated. Without thinking about it, the person might use the chest muscles to expand the rib cage. This extra muscle work will feel like shortness of breath, and the person will have difficulty taking a deep breath. The chest muscles will become tired, just like the legs tire after a long run. The lowered carbon dioxide levels in the blood can cause squeezing of the airways, which then results in wheezing. Hyperventilation syndrome may cause the following chest symptoms:

  • Chest pains or tenderness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

The doctor will make sure that the person isn't suffering a heart attack by considering the following:

  • Hyperventilation symptoms usually last longer (hours as opposed to minutes).
  • Hyperventilation symptoms usually happen in younger people.
  • Hyperventilation symptoms usually improve with exercise.
  • Hyperventilation pain does not improve with heart medication.
  • In very rare cases, people who hyperventilate can have low carbon dioxide blood levels that can cause a spasm of the blood vessels that supply the heart. If a person already has heart disease, this spasm may be enough to cause a heart attack.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/12/2014
Medical Author:
Coauthor:

Must Read Articles Related to Hyperventilation

Fainting
Fainting Fainting or syncope, is a temporary loss of consciousness. Causes of fainting include vasovagal, situational, postural, cardiac, neurologic, and psychogenic. Tr...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Hyperventilation:

Hyperventilation - Causes

What was the cause of your hyperventilation?

Hyperventilation - Causes

What were the causes of your hyperventilation?




Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hyperventilation Syndrome »

Hyperventilation syndrome (HVS) represents a relatively common ED presentation that is readily recognized by most clinicians.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary