Symptoms and Signs of Hyperventilation

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 6/30/2022

Doctor's Notes on Hyperventilation

Hyperventilation is a medical term that refers to overbreathing. In this case, ventilation through the lungs exceeds the metabolic demand on the body. Hyperventilation is normal after strenuous exercise. Many cases of acute, or sudden, hyperventilation come on when experiencing panic, anxiety, or emotional condition. Hyperventilation, can also be caused by a range of medical conditions, including heart attackanemiacongestive heart failurefeversepsisstroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), among others. 

Symptoms and signs of hyperventilation include 

Other associated symptoms can include

  • a sense of unsteadiness, 
  • chest pain or discomfort,
  • rapid heart rate, and
  • a tingling sensation around the mouth and in the fingertips or toes.

It is also common to experience shortness of breath, or the feeling that you cannot take in enough air.

What is the treatment for hyperventilation?

The treatment for hyperventilation varies and is dependent on the underlying medical problem that caused the hyperventilation.

  • Mild hyperventilation symptoms can usually be managed by learning breathing techniques and techniques to reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Medications to manage hyperventilation may be needed in severe cases of hyperventilation or hyperventilation syndrome.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.