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Hyperventilation - How COPD Patients Can Deal With It?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Mool Chand Gupta 95% (36512 ratings)
MD - Pulmonary, DTCD
Pulmonologist, Faridabad  •  43 years experience
Hyperventilation - How COPD Patients Can Deal With It?

A discomfort in chest accompanied by shortness of breath and a tingling sensation in fingers or toes might be a sign of hyperventilation, more commonly known as panic attacks. This is the condition wherein you need more amount of oxygen than normal.

And, you need to be aware of the symptom, especially if you are suffering from COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). With COPD, experiencing symptoms of hyperventilation may turn adverse, and there are enough reasons to know the ways to manage it, which is indeed possible.

Symptoms
Hyperventilating or over-breathing can be accompanied by or can cause various symptoms in people. Apart from the common symptoms described above, some patients may also experience dizziness, palpitations, sweating profusely, wheeze, feelings of suffocation or choking, tinnitus, weakness, etc. Some may also feel highly anxious or tensed. Though very uncommon, still, one may suffer from loss of consciousness as a result of hyperventilating.

Dealing with hyperventilation
Depending on the severity and type of hyperventilation, the available treatment option may vary from person to person. From various home remedies to certain prescribed drugs, treatments are available easily. However, it’s through practicing a few techniques on noticing the symptoms that can help one deal with hyperventilation. Some of those useful methods are, breathing through pursed lips, holding the breath for 10 to 15 seconds, trying to take deep breaths into the belly rather than in the chest and breathing slowly into cupped hands or a paper bag. These techniques will help regulate the breathing.

Preventing hyperventilation

  • As with many conditions, being aware of the preventive measures is crucial to managing the symptoms and the same is true with hyperventilation as well. A few measures to follow by COPD patients to prevent hyperventilation
  • Wearing tight fitting clothes restrict normal breathing. Therefore, wearing clothes that are loose on the upper chest portion can assist in preventing over breathing.
  • Opting for light exercises regularly (approved by the doctors, as having COPD needs extra attention in activities) helps in reducing stress levels and anxiety, which again can play a crucial role in preventing hyperventilating.
  • Though initially, it may be difficult, still, one must try to breathe through his or her nose and close the mouth for preventing over-breathing, as closed mouth makes it extremely difficult to hyperventilate.
  • Further, sleeping well during the night, eating a balanced diet, reducing the intake of caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee, and practicing various techniques for relaxation can be helpful too in preventing hyperventilation.

In case, the episodes of hyperventilation last for more than 30 minutes, even after trying all the techniques mentioned above, one should not delay in seeking necessary medical attention.
Growing episodes of hyperventilation or over-breathing can leave one feeling breathless. Therefore, when people with COPD notice any symptom of hyperventilation, consulting with pulmonology specialist must be of top priority. Neglecting this particular condition for an extended period may end up causing further complications. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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