When you're stressed or anxious about a difficult situation, you feel your heart beating rapidly, causing you to breathe more quickly than usual. It's possible that you're hyperventilating. Also called over-breathing, hyperventilation is the condition of excessive breathing or breathing in oxygen that is more than what your body needs.
It is often caused by panic, stress and anxiety. It can be a mild condition that can go away after you've calmed down. But in some cases, it can also indicate serious medical conditions such as a heart attack, bleeding or infection.
Hyperventilation comes in two types. The first is the everyday form, which is more difficult to determine. Some people don't experience any other symptom and may not be able to detect that they are already over-breathing. The other type is sudden hyperventilation. This one comes with intense symptoms such as bloating, burping, passing excess gas, and feeling of pressure in the abdomen.
In addition to that, the increased air movement inside the mouth can leave the mouth dry. There are also chemical changes that can happen when you breathe more than you should. This causes the carbon dioxide level to increase in the blood, reducing the flow of blood into the brain. This can result in weakness, nausea, fainting, dizziness, confusion, agitation, out of the body sensation, hallucination, and feeling of inability to breathe.
Since the over-breathing causes your lungs to become overinflated, your chest muscles would expand, causing extreme chest pains, tenderness, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Moreover, hyperventilation can also cause the levels of calcium to drop in your blood. This may result in numbness and tingling of arms or the mouth, spasms or cramps of the and feet, muscle twitching, and so on.
The most obvious remedy for hyperventilation is to relax. This is especially true if you're in the middle of a panic attack. Try your best to calm down. The more relaxed you are, the easier it would be to regulate your breathing. It's not anymore recommended to breathe into a paper bag.
It's best to stay away from any type of stimulant, whether auditory, visual or edible. Don't take in anything that contains caffeine such as coffee, teas and soda. Another aggravating stimulant to avoid is nicotine, which can easily hype you up. Many makes the mistake of thinking that smoking can calm their nerves but actually, it's the act of inhaling and exhaling deeply and slowly, which you usually do in smoking, that can alleviate your anxiety. Practice doing this without a stick of cigarette so that you don't end up worsening the situation.
You should also observe yourself carefully. Seek immediate medical attention if the hyperventilation lasts longer than a few minutes and if the symptoms only seem to get worse. It's possible that you have a more serious medical condition that requires immediate help.