|Hyperventilation is over-breathing, i.e. breathing more than is necessary to meet the body's requirements. When we over-breathe we eliminate large quantities of carbon dioxide on every outbreath.This causes a chemical imbalance affecting many of the body’s systems. The results can be very unpleasant and sometimes frightening, causing us to become anxious. This can further upset our breathing pattern and a vicious circle develops.
Over-breathing is a perfectly normal reaction to any stressful situation. Generally, when this event has passed, breathing will return to a normal rate.
Sometimes, as a result of prolonged stress or a physical trigger, a continual pattern of over-breathing can occur, whereby the breathing pattern does not return to a normal level.
How do I know if I am over-breathing?
You may be aware of some or all of the symptoms. Here are some of the most commonly experienced.
Frequent yawning and sighing
Feeling breathless after relatively minor exercise
Difficulty co-ordinating breathing and talking and/or eating.
Pins and needles in hands/arms/around mouth
Feeling permanently exhausted and unable to concentrate for no apparent reason
Muscular aches and tension around the neck/shoulders/jaw
Bloated feeling in the stomach
You may wish to try our Self Assessment Questionnaire. This asks a short list of questions, your answers to which should help you understand how you breathe.