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Hyperventilation is breathing that is deeper and faster than normal. It causes the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood to drop. This may make you feel light-headed. You may also have a fast heartbeat and feel short of breath. It also can lead to numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, anxiety, fainting, and sore chest muscles.
Some causes of sudden hyperventilation include anxiety, asthma, emphysema, a head injury, fever, and some medicines.
Hyperventilation also may be caused by a pattern of incorrect breathing. It most often happens when a physical or emotional event makes this breathing pattern worse. Hyperventilation may happen during pregnancy. But it usually goes away on its own after delivery.
In many cases, hyperventilation can be controlled by learning proper breathing techniques.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Always try to control your breathing or to belly-breathe first. If these techniques don't work and you don't have other health problems, you might try breathing in and out of a paper bag.
Do not try this method if:
Follow these safety measures when using this method:
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
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Current as of: March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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