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Define Hyperventilation

The human body is the giant machine ever. Breathing is one of the essential activities for the survival of the body. Usually, a human being can breathe 12 to 15 times every minute. For the smooth run of this machine, every function of the body needs to work in a balanced way. 

In the respiration system, 12 to 15 times of breathing helps to provide oxygen to the lungs and release carbon dioxide from the body. It is a usual balancing activity. If there is any fluctuation, then the imbalance occurs. This imbalance of breathing rate is nothing but hyperventilation. Let's see the definition and the causes of hyperventilation in detail.

Hyperventilation Meaning

Hyperventilation is when the breathing rate will be increased, and the carbon dioxide levels were reduced. This reduction of carbon dioxide leads to the contraction of blood vessels. The hyperventilation definition can be explained as the condition where a person breathes more than 15 times in a minute. The condition of hyperventilation is also named with different names, such as over-breathing, rapid breathing, deep breathing, rapid respiratory rate, etc. The hyperventilation meaning can be understood easily by seeing its terms.

To get a clearer idea about what hyperventilation is, the meaning helps us understand that the abnormal respiratory rate may cause the change in PH value functioning of blood vessels, pumping of blood to the lungs and heart, etc. These internal functions may impact the outer body, like body pains, weakness, fatigue, faintness, etc. 

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Causes of Hyperventilation 

The hyperventilation or over-breathing may be due to several reasons. It might be different from one individual to another. Stress, anxiety or panic or fear, etc., are the general hyperventilation causes. The hyperventilation causes are of different types, which include pulmonary, psychological, etc.

Psychological Hyperventilation Causes

The psychological hyperventilation causes are related to mental imbalance conditions. If the mental status is stable, there will not be any point of overbreathing. Some of those psychological over-breathing causes are - 

  • Feeling nervousness in a strange situation or among strangers.

  • Imbalanced anxiety for various reasons.

  • Panicking easily.

  • Somatization disorder is another psychological hyperventilation cause. It exhibits some physical symptoms with no identified reason. 

  • Stress due to work, health, problems, etc.

  • Strong emotions like anger or depression in different scenarios.

  • One can't be patient.

Pulmonary and Cardiac Hyperventilation Causes

Old breathing problems can also arise due to some cardiac and pulmonary disorders. These disorders can be considered as pulmonary and cardiac hyperventilation causes. These may include the respiratory system, circulatory system, lungs, heart, etc.  They are as follows- 

  • Asthma and allergies due to climatic conditions are with some food, dust, etc.

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis)

  • Congestive heart failure results in the disability to pump blood from the heart to other body parts. 

  • Myocardial infarction or Cardiac arrest.

  • Pneumonia also leads to hyperventilation.

  • Pulmonary embolism, clotting of blood in the lungs also cause overbreathing.

Other Hyperventilation Causes

Besides all the above causes, some individuals may have other causes of hyperventilation. But these can be seen in very few people. They are - 

  • Diabetic ketoacidosis, the most complication of diabetes, leads to rapid breathing.

  • Drug abuse is another cause of hyperventilation.

  • Infections and some pains.

  • If side effects occur after medication.

  • During pregnancy, some people may face this rapid respiratory rate.

  • Stimulant overuse etc.

  • While travelling to elevations over 6,000 feet.

These are the several causes of hyperventilation. As we know that the reasons may differ from one individual to another, the body's symptoms are also hyperventilated differently.

Symptoms of Hyperventilation

With the help of these symptoms, let's see what happens to the body whenever it hyperventilates. The body may react based on the cause or body sensitivity or health condition etc.  Let's see those symptoms in detail. 

  • Shortness of breath or feeling suffocated.

  • Experiencing a faster heartbeat

  • Feeling faint, lightheaded, or some dizziness.

  • Getting sudden pain or tightness in the chest.

  • Continuous yawns or sighs

  • A numb and tingly feeling in the palms or feet.

  • Headache, anxiety.

  • Fluctuations in blood pressure etc. 


Hence the abnormal breathing condition of the lungs, which results in faster breathing is nothing but hyperventilation. Several causes are there to get the body hyperventilated. Hyperventilation also has different symptoms to identify the state of a heartbeat. Because few people aren't able to locate this, so, be cautious and healthy by taking preventive measures and considering the risk factors.

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FAQs on Hyperventilation

Q1. What Happens to Your Body When You Hyperventilate?

Ans. Whenever the body gets hyperventilated, it exhibits different symptoms, which help us to know the condition of our heartbeat. These symptoms may include both risk factors and general symptoms. The mild and casual symptoms can be cured by taking medication and some home remedies. In contrast, the risk factors can be considered dangerous and one should take the physician's assistance and follow the appropriate treatment.

Symptoms Include

  • Abdominal bloating

  • Belching and Chest pain 

  • Feeling difficulty in sleeping

  • Dizziness in the early hours.

  • Frequent dry mouth and dehydration.

  • Lightheadedness, headache, etc 

  • Numbness or tingling sensation in palms and feet.

  • Fluctuations in blood pressure and heartbeat. 

  • Weakness, fatigue, faintness, etc.

All these are usual symptoms that are having low risk. 

  • Severe chest pain 

  • Fever for a long time.

  • Muscle spasms all over the body

  • Uncontrollable bleeding from injuries.

Q2. How Do You Stop Hyperventilating?

Ans. One should care about his/her respiratory system by following a few preventive measures or tips. These tips include various breathing methods which help to maintain balance in the breathing rate. They are - 

  • Following pranayamas and breathing through pursed lips etc., helps to control the airflow into the lungs.

  • Observing the breath rate and giving a pause for every 5 seconds to inhale and exhale.

  • Believe breathing is the best method of breathing. It helps to prevent breathing and other health disorders. 

  • Maintaining and controlling emotions may avoid stress, anger, anxiety, etc. It helps in reducing overbreathing.

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