hyperventilation syndrome

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abnormally fast and deep breathing, the result of either an emotional state or a physiological condition. Emotional causes include acute anxiety and emotional tension, such as in nervous, anxious patients who may have other functional disturbances related to emotional problems. Physiological causes include a rapid decrease in intracranial pressure, other neurologic problems, and metabolic, pulmonary, and cardiovascular conditions. More prolonged hyperventilation may be caused by certain disorders of the central nervous system, or by drugs that increase the sensitivity of the respiratory centers (such as high concentrations of salicylates). Transient respiratory alkalosis commonly occurs when a person is hyperventilating. Iatrogenic hyperventilation may be seen in critically ill patients receiving mechanical ventilation.

It was formerly considered standard practice to hyperventilate patients following severe head injuries. However, now practice guidelines published by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses note that current research does not conclusively support this practice, and they urge judiciousness in its use. The Cochrane review is another study that notes that more clinical trials are required to determine the efficacy of hyperventilation in treatment of head trauma.

Symptoms of hyperventilation in the anxious patient include “faintness” or impaired consciousness without actual loss of consciousness. At the outset the patient may feel a tightness of the chest, a sensation of smothering, and some degree of apprehension. Other symptoms may be related to the heart and digestive tract, such as palpitation or pounding of the heart, fullness in the throat, and pain over the stomach region. In prolonged attacks the patient may exhibit tetany with muscular spasm of the hands and feet, and perioral numbness.

Short-term immediate treatment consists of having the patient slow the rate of breathing. Determining the underlying physical or emotional cause is necessary; the type of treatment depends on the cause. Medication, stress reduction measures, and controlled breathing exercises will control hyperventilation. Health care providers are no longer advised to use the technique of rebreathing into a paper bag, because of the danger of hypoxia.
hyperventilation syndrome a complex of symptoms that accompany hypocapnia caused by hyperventilation, including palpitation, a feeling of shortness of breath or air hunger, lightheadedness or giddiness, profuse perspiration, and tingling sensations in the fingertips, face, or toes. Prolonged overbreathing may result in vasomotor collapse and loss of consciousness. Hyperventilation that is unrecognized by the patient is a common cause of the symptoms associated with chronic anxiety or panic attacks.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

chron·ic hy·per·ven·ti·la·tion syn·drome

reduced CO2 content of the blood (hypocapnia) as a result of hyperventilation of prolonged duration; may occur in anxiety states and in some chronic organic, usually cardiovascular, disease; alkalemia, paresthesia, and tetany may occur.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012

hyperventilation syndrome

1. Panic disorder, see there.
2. Tachy-dyspnea 'syndrome' A clinical complex affecting neurotics with anxiety attacks; the hyperventilation, in addition to the characteristic EEG changes–bilateral synchronous theta wave followed by delta activity with spike and slow-wave discharges causes respiratory alkalosis, tightness in the chest, dizziness without syncope, numbness of hands and feet and tetany Treatment Rebreathe air in a paper bag, as the ↑ CO2 facilitates physiologic compensation.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

hyperventilation syndrome

A state in which the affected person, most often a woman, will, from time to time, begin to breathe at an abnormally rapid rate and abnormally deeply. The effect is to increase the rate at which carbon dioxide is lost from the blood causing a rise in the pH. This brings on a temporary physiological upset with tingling sensation in the skin, cramping or spasm of the fingers and toes and a feeling of faintness or actual fainting. These effects can be relieved by rebreathing into a small plastic bag. The syndrome mainly affects people with generalised anxiety disorder or sometimes chronic fatigue syndrome. It is also known as psychogenic hyperventilation.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Hornsveld HK, Garssen B, Fiedeldij Dop MJ, van Spiegel PI, de Haes JC (1996) Double-blind placebo-controlled study of the hyperventilation provocation test and the validity of the hyperventilation syndrome. The Lancet 348: 154-158.
Mooney S, Candy S (2008) The real cost of effective treatment: A single case study of a patient with hyperventilation syndrome. New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy 36: 88.
van Dixhoorn J, Duivenvoorden H (1985) Efficacy of Nijmegen Questionnaire in recognition of the hyperventilation syndrome. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 29: 199-206.
(4.) SHIGEMASA TOMIOKA[?], NOBUYOSHI NAKAJO ;Beta-adrenergic blocker for hyperventilation syndrome in dentistry: A report of three cases; Oral Science International (2011)8; 34-35
Hyperventilation syndromes in medicine and psychiatry: A review.
Hyperventilation syndrome is apparently common in those with asthma, chronic nasal congestion, depression and anxiety, high stress levels, recent surgery, poor health, poor posture and, as in my case, pregnancy.
In the Nijmegen questionnaire the defining score was 2_24/64, as this has been established as indicating hyperventilation syndrome (van Dixhoorn & Duivenvoorden, 1985).
Bastow V (2001): Hyperventilation syndrome and physiotherapy intervention: a retrospective study.