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Originally published August 21 2009

How to Treat Hyperventilation

by Alex Howard

(NaturalNews) Hyperventilation or over-breathing is the state of breathing faster and/or deeper than necessary, thereby reducing carbon dioxide concentration in the blood to below the normal level. When there is less carbon dioxide in the blood than the desired level, this causes a state called "Respiratory Alkalosis." When this happens oxygen from red blood cells fails to pass to tissues as effectively. Hyperventilation is a common problem which can be helped by making some simple lifestyle changes.

Hyperventilation can result in the symptoms below:
* Fatigue, difficulty catching breath
* Brain Fog, palpitations
* Increased pain sensitivity, bloated feeling in stomach
* Anxiety, chest pain, feeling tense
* Dizziness, blurred vision, chest pain
* Cramping, cold hands and feet
* Weakness, stiff fingers or arms
* Parasthesia (tingling, prickling or numbness of skin)

Hyperventilation often occurs as a result of chronic stress. The difficulty is that once chronic stress and hyperventilation have occurred, this breathing pattern becomes a habit. People often then also become stressed about the resulting symptoms of hyperventilation - which in turn makes the hyperventilation worse creating a vicious cycle.

What is Hyperventilation?

* Always remember to try to breathe through your nose. This increases the amount of air which is exhaled and then immediately re-inhaled, and is therefore relatively rich in carbon dioxide. Mouth breathers must make a conscious effort to close their mouths always and if necessary, tape your lips closed at night.
* Secondly, breathe less deeply and more slowly. Initially this brings a feeling of wanting to breathe more, but this must be ignored. It is a bit like having an irritating itch and not being allowed to scratch it. The results of reducing your rate of breathing are felt very quickly (within a few minutes), which is good positive feedback to encourage you to continue. But further improvement may continue over weeks so keep at it.
* Thirdly, if you catch yourself sighing, yawning or taking a deep breath, hold your breath for a few seconds, breathe out very slowly, then start breathing slowly and shallowly again.
* Also Tai Chi is one of the best exercises for hyperventilation. Yoga is also good but only specific classes called Pranayama where the focus is purely on breathing.

General Rules on Breathing to reduce Hyperventilation
Specific Daily Exercise to reduce Hyperventilation-Pursed Lip
* Sit on a chair or lie down
* Ensure if you are sitting on a chair that your back is straight, and that your shoulders are back and relaxed
* Place the dominant hand (the one you write with), on the abdomen and the other on the chest
* Inhale slowly through the nose ensuring your abdomen rises further than your chest on inhaling, and your chest simply pivots, following the movement of the abdomen
* Exhale slowly through the mouth using pursed lips, i.e. making a very small hole with your lips. You should feel the resistance to the air flow that this creates - i.e. it should be harder to breathe out. In the early stages of this exercise you should feel tempted to breathe out more quickly - don`t give in though!
* Breathe out until you feel the need to naturally breathe in again.
* Complete one inhalation and one exhalation 30-35 times morning and evening


* It helps to do your first exercise when you are in front of a mirror - just check your shoulders aren`t hunching or rising when you inhale. If you find they are hunching, rotate your palms outwards at either side of the body, and this will prevent the shoulders from rising.
* A poor posture can prevent this new breathing technique from becoming a habit: the pelvis tipped excessively under (or indeed the opposite), or the bottom and tummy sticking out. You can visit most manual health workers (osteopath, physiotherapist, Perrin technique practitioner, (chiropractor) for help with exercises to correct this type of poor posture.

About the author

Alex Howard is author of "WHY ME? My Journey from M.E. to Health and Happiness" and founder of The Optimum Health Clinic, an award winning clinic specialising in M.E./C.F.S./Fibromyalgia based in Harley Street Clinic, London, UK. The clinic has treated over 5,000 patients with M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia in over twenty-five countries around the world, and is currently running a two year clinical trial in conjunction with two top universities. A free information pack, including a 75 documentary about the clinic and its work, can be ordered from

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