Hyperventilation is when the breathing rate is greatly increased leading to an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood

It is often caused by stress, fear, anxiety and panic or even underlying medical problems.

How to Recognise Hyperventilation:

  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Tingling in the fingers and toes
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps in the hands and feet
  • Anxiety at the feeling of being unable to breathe

How to Treat a Person that is Hyperventilating:

  • If the cause is due to panic or anxiety, remove the casualty to a quiet place
  • Advise them to breathe at a slower rate 1 breath every 5 seconds (breath in for a count of 7, out for a count of 11)
  • If this has no effect, try belly breathing
  • Breath through the nose and exhale through pursed lips (like a whistle) repeat 3 to 10 times
  • If this has no effect, take 6 to 10 easy breaths with a small paper bag or the hands held over the mouth followed by 5 or 6 normal breaths. This enables the casualty to re-breathe their expired air which helps to increase the low levels of carbon dioxide.

Do not use the paper bag method if the patient has:

  • A history of heart or lung problems
  • Asthma
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
  • Emphysema
  • History of Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • History of a Stroke
  • History of Pulmonary Embolism (Blood Clot
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