Hyperpnea or Hyperventilation: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Medical Definition:

It is characterized by an abnormal increase in depth and breathing rate. It is also called hyperventilation.

Hyperventilation is breathing too much, more than the body needs. This is sometimes called excess air. Rapid or deep breathing is sometimes seen in severe conditions such as infection, bleeding, or heart attack.

Hyperpnea syndrome is more specific and related to a pattern of excess breathing under certain conditions. This extra breathing results in a group of symptoms.

Although the Hyperpnea syndrome may seem very similar to panic attacks, the two disorders are different.

People with panic disorder often have emotional complaints (for example, fear of death or closed spaces) accompanying attacks.

If a person has Hyperpnea, they will have specific symptoms without these emotional complaints (although they may still be anxious).



The cause or causes of the syndrome are unknown. Certain conditions or situations cause excessive breathing in some people.

Symptoms of Hyperpnea

Sudden and daily are the two forms of this disease. In its daily form, excessive breathing can be challenging to detect. The sudden form appears quickly and has more intense symptoms. People with this syndrome may feel pressure in the stomach and chest and have emotional problems.

As we have already said, the Hyperpnea syndrome results from inhaling excess air. This results in the following abdominal symptoms:

  • Swelling.
  • Burp excessively
  • Abdominal gases.
  • The sensation of pressure in the abdomen.

Also, anxiety with the increased air movement through the mouth can cause a dry mouth feeling.

Chemical changes can occur with excessive breathing. Hyperventilation causes the level of carbon dioxide in the blood to decrease. This lower level of carbon dioxide reduces the flow of blood to the brain, which can affect the nervous system and show emotional symptoms:

  • Weakness.
  • Fainting.
  • Dizziness.
  • Confusion.
  • Agitation.
  • A feeling of being outside yourself.
  • See images that are not.
  • Feeling as if I could not breathe.

Excessive breathing can also cause calcium levels to drop in the blood, which can result in the following symptoms:

  • Numbness and tingling (usually in both arms or around the mouth).
  • Spasms or cramps in the hands and feet.
  • Muscle spasms.

Many factors can cause chest symptoms with Hyperpnea syndrome. Usually, breathing is relaxed. If a person over breathes, the lungs inflate excessively. Without thinking, the person could use the chest muscles to expand the rib cage.

This extra work of muscles will feel like shortness of breath, and the person will have difficulty taking a deep breath. The chest muscles get tired, just like the legs get tired after a long period.

Low carbon dioxide levels in the blood can cause compression of the airways, resulting in wheezing. Hyperventilation syndrome can cause the following chest symptoms:

  • Pain in the chest or sensitivity
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Wheezing

The doctor will make sure that the person is not suffering from a heart attack by considering the following:

  • Symptoms of Hyperpnea usually last longer (hours compared to minutes).
  • They typically occur in younger people.
  • They usually improve with exercise.
  • The pain produced does not improve with heart medication.

In sporadic cases, people suffering from Hyperpnea by having low levels of carbon dioxide in their blood can cause a spasm of the blood vessels supplying the heart. If a person already has heart disease, this spasm may be enough to cause a heart attack.

When to seek medical attention

If a person is experiencing signs and symptoms of Hyperpnea, you should seek urgent medical attention to detect serious causes.

The person should receive urgent medical attention if they are experiencing signs and symptoms because more severe over-breathing causes may be present.


The doctor will quickly examine the patient, especially breathing and circulation. If the doctor does not find anything that immediately endangers life, the doctor will ask about the medical history and perform a physical examination.

Specific tests may be ordered to explore other causes of the patient’s signs and symptoms. These tests are often ordered because the only way to confirm that a person has hyperventilation syndrome is to eliminate other causes.

The patient can be connected to a monitor during the evaluation. The doctor can order these tests:

  • Arterial blood sample.
  • Other blood tests
  • Chest x-ray.
  • Ventilation / perfusion scan.
  • Computed tomography of the thorax.
  • Electrocardiogram.

If the doctor suspects that the patient may have a more severe condition, he may recommend hospitalization for other tests and observations. Life-threatening conditions associated with rapid or deep breathing include:

  • Heart problems.
  • Lung problems.
  • Nervous system problems.
  • Drug reactions and poisons.
  • Infection.
  • The pregnancy.
  • Hepatic disorders.
  • Home remedies for hyperventilation.

If a person has signs and symptoms of Hyperpnea, a visit to the hospital’s emergency department will determine whether or not there are other, more worrisome causes of these symptoms. Home care is only for people who have been informed by their doctors who have that condition.

If a person has been diagnosed with this condition, the doctor can briefly instruct the patient to test specific breathing and relaxation exercises. This can work to stop an attack. Breathing in a paper bag is no longer recommended.

Treatment of Hyperpnea

Once the doctor is sure that the patient’s diagnosis is correct and not something more serious, the doctor will arrange follow-up care with a psychiatrist or a primary care physician.

These doctors will teach the patient about the syndrome and what techniques can help control the attacks. After talking with a regular doctor, certain medications may be prescribed. If the patient’s condition worsens after visiting the emergency department, they must return for a review.


With the proper training, a person can use stress reduction techniques, breathing exercises, and certain medications to reduce the number and severity of attacks. In addition, therapy for any anxiety problem should help reduce the number of attacks and their severity.

Hyperpnea is an area of ​​medicine under current study. The research focuses on understanding the conditions that predispose some people to this syndrome and its relationship with related disorders.