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Chronic Hyperventilation

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Prolonged stress or tension increase the risk of chronic hyperventilation. How do you know if you suffer from chronic hyperventilation? And what can you do about it? You can read that and more in this article.

What is chronic hyperventilation?

Chronic hyperventilation is characterized by prolonged breathing that is too fast or too deep. When you exercise vigorously, it’s normal for your breathing to speed up, providing more oxygen to your blood so your muscles can handle the exertion. However, it becomes problematic when you continue to breathe excessively even when your body is at rest.

Breathing too fast increases the oxygen in your blood and decreases the carbon dioxide. Your body aims to maintain a constant carbon dioxide level in the blood. When the carbon dioxide level drops too low, you begin to experience symptoms.

Chronic or Acute?
There is a distinction between chronic and acute hyperventilation. Acute hyperventilation occurs when you breathe rapidly for a short period. If the hyperventilation is less intense but occurs over a long period, it is considered chronic. Chronic hyperventilation is also known as hyperventilation syndrome.

 

When does chronic hyperventilation occur?

Chronic hyperventilation is clearly related to stress, tension, and other psychological symptoms. It often occurs in combination with:

 

 

What these experiences have in common is stress, tension and anxiety. This prolonged stress causes the breathing to become deeper and/or faster.
Deeper and faster breathing, in turn, creates more stress, especially if you also have a fear of hyperventilation. This can make it difficult to break the vicious cycle, increasing the risk of developing a long-term, chronic form of hyperventilation.

 

What are symptoms?

Chronic hyperventilation is less intense than acute hyperventilation, so the symptoms are often more vague and less distinct. They can also overlap with other psychological complaints or physical illnesses. Typically, the symptoms have been present for a longer period of time.

Additionally, not everyone with chronic hyperventilation experiences the same symptoms. This makes it difficult to determine the connection between prolonged, excessive breathing and the symptoms you are experiencing.

 

Some of the symptoms of chronic hyperventilation include:

 

 

  • Physical symptoms, such as:
    • Shortness of breath;
    • Suffering from feeling stuffy;
    • Dizziness;
    • Excessive sweating;
    • Palpitations;
    • Tingling in fingers, feet or around the mouth;
    • Muscle pain;
    • Blurred vision;
    • Ringing in the ears.

 

⮕ Symptoms of hyperventilation partly correspond to symptoms of panic attacks.

 

What can I do?

There are several things you can do to reduce your symptoms of chronic hyperventilation. Some tips include:

 

  1. Find relaxation
    Often hyperventilation is the result of a continuous, dormant stress or tension in your body. Relaxation is important to deal with this.
  2. Get moving
    Physical activity, whether it be vigorous exercise or leisurely walking, affects your breathing in a beneficial way. In addition, exercise and sports also contribute to your relaxation.
  3. Do breathing exercises
    By doing regular exercises with your breathing, you gradually learn to breathe differently. A good breathing exercise is the following:
    • Sit up straight. And breathe all the way to your belly. If necessary, put a hand on your belly to feel if you really feel your belly going up and down.
    • Breathe in gently for 3 seconds and then slowly exhale in 6 seconds.
    • You may notice that breathing out slowly takes more effort. Try to let out a little bit of air every second, not all at once.
    • Does it not work right away? That’s perfectly normal. Keep trying until your breathing calms down.
  4. Avoid stimulants
    Do not drink coffee or alcoholic beverages and also refrain from using drugs. Make sure you eat a good and healthy diet.
  5. Therapy
    A psychologist will work with you to identify any underlying psychological issues that contribute to your accelerated breathing.

 

Help with chronic hyperventilation

Do you have questions about chronic hyperventilation? Or re you unsure about when to consult a psychologist?

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    Have you tried many things yourself and still experiencing symptoms? Feel free to call us at 085-1308900 or contact us online.

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    At iPractice, you will work with 2 psychologists. The treatment includes both online sessions and in-person consultations at one of iPractice’s locations. You can find more information about the intake and treatment process at iPractice.

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    Treatments for stress are not covered by health insurance companies. Is the chronic hyperventilation part of a psychological disorder that does fall under the DSM-5 guidelines? Then you will often receive reimbursement. Learn more about costs and reimbursement.

publish-icon Published - 10 Jun 2024
Irene has extensive experience in treating symptoms such as chronic hyperventilation. She works with you to understand the underlying causes of your current symptoms. In her treatments, she uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Mindfulness.
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GZ-Psychologist Irene Bakker

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