Treating Hyperventilation and Shortness of Breath – Managing and treatment of Breathing Issues
If someone gets stressed out they can start to breathe far more rapidly than normal (the average person takes between twelve and twenty breaths a minute). If they continue to do this they’ll start to feel dizzy and experience a tingling in their extremities. All of this will probably stress them out more, compounding the problem. Since these are also symptoms of heart attack, affected individuals may believe they are having a heart attack. See Chapter 7 for more information about suspected heart attack.
Respiratory alkalosis, a severe condition, occurs when carbon dioxide levels in the body drop too low, primarily due to hyperventilation. Signs and symptoms include dizziness, bloating, feeling lightheaded, numbness and/or muscle spasms in the hands and feet, discomfort in the chest area, confusion, dry mouth, tingling in the arms, heart palpitations, and feeling short of breath. Treatment requires an increase of carbon dioxide absorption. Having the patient exhale in a paper (not plastic) bag and inhale the carbon-dioxide rich air will aid in reducing symptoms. Providing psychological support will alleviate anxiety.
The best way to treat cases of hyperventilation is to begin by reassuring and calming the victim. If she’s stressed out about something in particular, see if you can remove it or remove her from its vicinity. Tell her to take deep, slow breaths. Count them out for her. If she is still hyperventilating, there may be an underlying cause, and you’ll have to probe deeper to find out what it is.