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Hyperventilation Syndrome - What is This Disorder All About?

Updated on August 4, 2017

What is hyperventilation syndrome?

You will never realize how serious a particular disease is until someone in your family actually experiences it.

In my case, I never realized how serious this disease called hyperventilation syndrome until my daughter experienced it herself recently.

First, what is hyperventilation?

Hyperventilation is a respiratory disease that can have psychological or physiological origin. It is characterized by recurring panic attacks accompanied by very deep and rapid breathing.

Doctors say that overbreathing is one way some people respond to stress and is associated with the "fight or flight" reaction.

Hyperventilation syndrome is also called irritable heart, muscular exhaustion of the heart, neurasthenia, anxiety neurosis, cardiac neurosis, and effort syndrome.

It sometimes occurs during panic attacks, sometimes with chest pain and comes with "pins and needles" sensation also called paresthesia. My daughter said she felt chest discomfort more than chest pain.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder reports that panic attacks are characterized by feelings of terror, fear, apprehension and very strong feeling of forthcoming destruction.

This is actually what my daughter was feeling when she was having the attacks. She said she felt like she was going to die, she was very restless, she was gasping for breath and since she's a nurse and knew what to do, she reached for a brown bag and started breathing from it.

In reality she was feeling very apprehensive about reporting for work on that graveyard shift. There was no problem with the work but the problem was more with the people at work. Office politics was the order of the day and the bosses were rude and inconsiderate.

But one research study says that the more a patient gets apprehensive the more severe the hyperventilation gets and the cycle of symptoms goes on and on.

According to the British Journal of Psychology, hyperventilation is not the cause of panic attack, but rather the result of a panic attack.

Cause of hyperventilation

Doctors say that hyperventilation has no organic cause whatsoever and its origin is primarily psychological.

In the case of my daughter, I guess the cause is more of stress - mental and psychological stress.

Hyperventilation happens when there is over exertion of the muscles and can happen when the person is awake of fast asleep.


© 2014 Zee Mercado


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  • Daniella Lopez profile image

    Danielle Lopez 3 years ago from Arkansas

    Will do! Thanks for the heads up. :)

  • WAHmom profile image

    Zee Mercado 3 years ago

    Dear Daniella Lopez,

    You're welcome. I'm happy that this hub was able to enlighten you about hyperventilation syndrome. As with the rest of my hubs, I will be regularly updating this hub so watch out for new information and the latest news on this topic. Thanks.

  • Daniella Lopez profile image

    Danielle Lopez 3 years ago from Arkansas

    Very interesting. Thank you for sharing! I have been having frequent panic attacks and have been trying to find the root of the problem.