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  • Writer's pictureSimone Grove

How to cope with Hyperventilation Syndrome

Updated: May 8

Panic attacks and anxiety can be so frightening for both the person experiencing the panic and anyone observing, such as a relative or friend. Very often people don't realise that physiotherapy can help. Panic attacks often occur as a result of anxiety and/or a lesser-known condition called Hyperventilation Syndrome.

What is Hyperventilation Syndrome?

Hyperventilation means moving more air through the chest than the body can deal with and is sometimes called over-breathing. It's a normal reaction to sudden danger or excitement, where breathing and heart rate speeds up, Adrenalin pours into the blood stream and the nervous system is on red alert.

A condition that’s less easy to spot is chronic hyperventilation. This is something I know a lot about, as I am a chronic hyperventilator myself! Signs include:

*Breathlessness at rest for no apparent reason

*Frequent yawns or deep sighs

*Chest wall pain


*Light headedness and feeling faint

*Tingling to hands and lips

*Gut upsets

*Achy muscles, joints and tremors

*Tiredness, weakness, broken sleep

*Clammy hands

*High anxiety or phobias


When over-breathing becomes chronic, the balance between the oxygen we breathe in and the carbon dioxide we breathe out is upset. Carbon dioxide levels start to drop. This is what leads to all the symptoms above, and is also what we need to choose to change in order to feel better.

Breathing easy

Breathing is something we do unconsciously without having to think about it – and we often forget that it’s happening until something draws attention to it or things go ‘wrong’, such as a panic attack. But what we don’t realise is that we can consciously control our breathing to make things better, too.

"You have to breathe to live. But if you breathe too much, life becomes dominated by fear full of symptoms, and fear of living life to the full" (unknown)

Strategies to alleviate symptoms of Hyperventilation Syndrome

There are many different strategies that can help with Hyperventilation Syndrome. The key is finding the one that suits you. A strategy that suits one person may not be the one that will help you, as everyone is individual and therefore needs personalised support. Finding the right strategy is trial and error, until you find the one that works best for you – but working with a professional physiotherapist specifically trained in Hyperventilation Syndrome and anxiety can make this process simpler and smoother.

Techniques that may help with Hyperventilation Syndrome include:

*Specific breathing exercises

*Practicing breathing with a longer out breath than in breath

*Aromatherapy oils such as Ylang Ylang to calm body and mind.

These are just a few of many strategies I may teach my clients – it’s really important to take a personalised approach to Hyperventilation Syndrome, and work together to find a technique or techniques that work well for you.

Are you ready to find the strategy that works for you? Download your FREE copy of "5 ways to help breathlessness" now!

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