Hyperventilation Syndrome – It Isn’t What You Might Think
Posted by: Tampa Cardio
On: May 1, 2022
This little-known syndrome can mimic a heart attack as well as panic attacks. It can range from feeling a bit off to questioning if you will be ok and if you may need to go to the Emergency Room.
Many of us think of hyperventilating as it’s shown on TV shows which are usually someone becoming very upset by a specific event. They are depicted as not being able to breathe and are given a paper bag to breathe into until they feel better. Which on television is about instant, 30 seconds or less.
The truth of what this syndrome entails isn’t as drastic, quick, or as easily calmed.
A patient came to see us recently who was complaining of chest pain, heart palpitations, weird sensations down her left arm and up into her neck, as well as overall body tingling, an inability to really get enough air causing gasping and sighing, and she said she felt like she had had too many energy drinks, when in fact she had zero.
We did an EKG and the readings were normal. We followed up with an echocardiogram and even a stress test. We were happy to tell her that her heart was fine.
What she was experiencing was known as Hyperventilation Syndrome. It can cause a wide range of symptoms including:
- Chest pain (Crushing, squeezing, and even stabbing)
- Racing heartbeat
- Having a hard time breathing – shortness of breath or feeling like you just can’t get enough air
- Frequent yawning
- Numb feelings in hands and or feet
- Muscle spasms
What causes Hyperventilation Syndrome? – it can be brought on by stress and anxiety emotionally or simply being felt by the body.
- Panic attacks
- Side effects of certain drugs
- High altitude
- Head injury
- PTSD triggers
Treatment and Relief
Focus on taking controlled breaths
Pursed lip breathing: Put your lips into the same position that you’d use to blow out birthday candles. Breathe in slowly through your nose, not your mouth. Then, breathe out slowly through the small opening between your lips. Take your time to exhale, and don’t blow the air out with force. Repeat these steps until you feel normal.
Limit airflow: breath through one nostril only, and slowly.
Breathe into a paper bag: This does work but you must do it slowly and repeatedly for 5 to 6 minutes.
Benzodiazepines: This class of drugs relaxes the body. It provides much relief from the symptoms and may be used for a time to help get the syndrome under control.
It is important to talk with your doctor if you think you may be experiencing Hyperventilation Syndrome and don’t be afraid to bring it up as a possibility. It is one of the most overlooked diagnoses there is.
Visit www.tampacardio.com to learn more about our facilities and how we can help.
Never ignore chest pain of any kind. It is always better safe than sorry.
Posted by: Tampa Cardio