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Hyperventilation symptoms

Hyperventilation is most often caused by stress, anxiety, pain, or fear. Symptoms of hyperventilation usually last 20 to 30 minutes and may include:

  • Feeling anxious, nervous, or tense.
  • Frequent sighing or yawning.
  • Feeling that you can't get enough air (air hunger) or that you need to sit up to breathe.
  • A pounding and racing heartbeat.
  • Problems with balance, lightheadedness, or vertigo.
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or around the mouth.
  • Chest tightness, fullness, pressure, tenderness, or pain.
  • Headache.
  • Gas, bloating, or burping.
  • Twitching.
  • Sweating.
  • Vision changes, such as blurred vision or tunnel vision.
  • Problems with concentration or memory.
  • Loss of consciousness (fainting).

Treatment for hyperventilation depends on the cause. Home treatment is usually all that is needed for mild hyperventilation symptoms. Medical treatment may be needed for hyperventilation symptoms that are moderate to severe, last for long periods of time, or recur. A health professional can help you develop a strategy for controlling your symptoms or treat the cause of your symptoms.

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Although anxiety and stress are the most common causes, there are many less common causes of hyperventilation. A person's ability to control symptoms of hyperventilation depends on the cause.

Author Jan Nissl, RN, BS
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Tracy Landauer
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Last Updated September 12, 2008

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 12, 2008
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.

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