Hyperventilation Definition, Causes & More

By sandy
Reviewed: dr. vanta
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. 'Hyperventilation.' Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan, www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hypvn.
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Medical Expert Medical Expert

When you inhale, air enters in the lungs and oxygen from air moves from lungs to blood. At the same time, carbon dioxide moves from blood to lungs and is exhaled. This gas exchange is essential to life.

Hyperventilation is a sudden onset of heavy breathing where the body expels more carbon dioxide than normal. If prolonged, hyperventilation can manifest in other parts of the body, as the blood flow is imbalanced between carbon dioxide and oxygen. Symptoms to look for include lightheadedness, nausea and a tingling sensation in the fingertips. Forced regular breathing can return the balance and restore blood oxygen and carbon monoxide levels.

1. Is Hyperventilation Dangerous?

Hyperventilating in itself isn't dangerous or life-threatening; however, it may lead to situations that can cause serious harm. Fainting and lightheadedness can both cause serious injuries.1‘Hyperventilation.’ Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan, www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hypvn. If the event is triggered by anxiety or stress, it could lead to other problems down the line unless it's monitored by a healthcare professional.

It may also be an indication that something else in the body isn't working optimally. For example, hyperventilation can indicate that the body is unable to balance oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood, which may indicate cardiovascular or pulmonary conditions.


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