Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Using a Paper Bag to Control Hyperventilation

hwkb17_065.jpg

Try these steps to control hyperventilation

  • Take 6 to 12 easy, natural breaths, with a small paper bag held over your mouth and nose. Then remove the bag from your nose and mouth and take easy, natural breaths.
  • Next, try belly-breathing (diaphragmatic breathing).
  • Alternate these techniques until your hyperventilation stops.

If hyperventilation continues for longer than 30 minutes, call your doctor immediately.

Do not use a paper bag if:

  • You have any heart or lung problems, such as coronary artery disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, emphysema), or a history of deep vein thrombosis, stroke, or pulmonary embolism.
  • Rapid breathing occurs at a high altitude [above 6000 ft (1829 m)]. Breathing faster than normal is a natural response to an increased altitude.

Follow these precautions when using the bag method:

  • Do not use a plastic bag.
  • Do not breathe continuously into a paper bag. Take 6 to 12 natural breaths, with a paper bag held over your mouth and nose, then remove the bag from your nose and mouth.
  • Do not hold the bag for the person who is hyperventilating. Allow the person to hold the bag over his or her own mouth and nose.
By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Last Revised August 29, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 29, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

Understanding Anxiety Prevention
Article
Unhappy couple
Article
 
Couple walking outdoors
SLIDESHOW
Man texting
Article
 
Phobias frightened eyes
Slideshow
Antidepressants
Video
 
organize
Article
Stressed businessman
HEALTH CHECK
 
Distressed teen girl in dramatic lighting
Article
Quit Smoking
Slideshow
 
Teen with OCD
Article
Too Scared Social Anxiety Disorder
VIDEO