Many people experience hyperventilation syndrome at one point in their lives and it is usually due to stress or anxiety. It often lasts for 20 to 30 minutes after which a person will feel better. Since this syndrome is poorly understood, this article aims to shed more light on it.

What is hyperventilation syndrome?

Hyperventilation syndrome is a condition indicated by rapid and shallow breathing without an underlying physical cause. Oftentimes, this syndrome is triggered by anxiety, emotional stress, or panic. Another term for hyperventilation is over-breathing.

Rapid breathing causes an imbalance between inhaling oxygen (O2) and exhaling carbon dioxide (CO2). As a result, the amount of CO2 in the body declines.

Anyone can develop this condition and it usually affects people ages between 15 and 55 years[1]. Symptoms of hyperventilation can be quite overwhelming and impact a person’s quality of life. Further in this post, you’re going to learn how to stop hyperventilating.

Common causes of hyperventilation

Many factors cause hyperventilation. The most common causes are emotional distress, panic, and nervousness. Stress and anxiety cause hyperventilation through several mechanisms, one of which is the activation of the fight-or-flight response[2]. Other related causes could be asthma and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

If you’re asking the question, “What is hyperventilation?” it’s important to understand the causes of this condition, which is associated with rapid and shallow breathing. Besides emotional distress and anxiety or panic, causes of hyperventilation include:

  • Use of stimulants
  • Bleeding
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe pain
  • Infection of the lungs
  • Respiratory diseases such as asthma, pneumonia, and pulmonary embolism
  • Heart conditions such as heart attack
  • Head injuries
  • Climbing to elevations over 6000 feet
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Fever
  • Hyperventilation syndrome

When it comes to hyperventilation syndrome, the exact cause is not entirely clear. While in some cases stress and anxiety can trigger[3] this syndrome, sometimes patients can’t name any specific trigger.

What are the symptoms of hyperventilation syndrome?

The telltale sign of this syndrome is rapid, shallow breathing, although, at the specific moment, the individual is not aware that he is breathing that way. There may be other signs and symptoms that occur due to rapid breathing. The most common symptoms of hyperventilation syndrome include:

  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, and weakness
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Headache
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle spasms in hands and feet
  • Tingling and numbness in arms and around the mouth
  • Dry mouth
  • Bloating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Confusion

Difference between hyperventilation and panic attacks

Hyperventilation and panic attacks are often mistaken for one another. Although their symptoms overlap, they’re different conditions.

Panic attacks are characterized by sudden yet temporary fear and intense physical reactions to ordinary, non-threatening situations and events. When people experience multiple unexpected panic attacks, they have panic disorder. In panic disorder, panic attacks have no warning signs and aren’t related to underlying conditions.

On the other hand, the question “What is hyperventilation?” could be answered by observing responses to strong emotions such as anxiety, fear, or stress. Episodes of this syndrome may occur randomly and sometimes they may trigger anxiety.

How is hyperventilation syndrome diagnosed?

There are no specific criteria to diagnose hyperventilation syndrome. The process may involve asking patients about symptoms they’re experiencing, performing physical exams, and checking medical history.

The healthcare professional may order several tests to rule out some underlying conditions. These tests may include pulse oximetry because people with this syndrome generally have blood oxygen saturation levels around 100%. A chest x-ray is ordered to check for lung-related problems whereas an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) checks for heart-related diseases.

When a doctor diagnoses the problem, he will answer the question “What is Hyperventilation?” and explain what you can do to reduce symptoms of this syndrome.

Hyperventilation syndrome – prevention tips

Future episodes of this syndrome can be prevented or reduced. Below, you’ll see some of the most effective tips on how to stop hyperventilating and avoid experiencing the uncomfortable symptoms again.

1. Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises allow you to maintain steady and relaxed breathing, thereby preventing symptoms of hyperventilation. While a lot more research on this subject is necessary, current evidence confirms that breathing exercises can reduce the severity and frequency[4] of hyperventilation attacks.

A good breathing exercise is deep breathing. Take slow, deep breaths when facing stressful situations to calm down. In addition to exercises, Keep Calm Gummies can also promote calmness and thereby help lower the risk of future attacks.

2. Regular exercise

Being active is essential for both physical and psychological health and well-being. Regular exercise reduces stress and anxiety[5] thus improving your respiratory and emotional health.

Try to engage in 150 minutes of moderate activity a week and practice strength training two days a week. Since exercise improves overall health it can also help manage concerns such as constant yawning and shortness of breath.

3. Progressive muscle relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation is an exercise that relieves stress and anxiety in the body as you slowly tense and relax each muscle. The premise behind this approach is that you can’t have the feeling of relaxation and experience anxiety at the same time. That’s why progressive muscle relaxation allows you to achieve a calm state, just as Keep Calm Gummies are also designed to do.

4. Meditation

Meditation enhances self-awareness and helps manage stress and anxiety. By improving your emotional and physical health, meditation can reduce the risks of symptoms of hyperventilation.

Meditation is also helpful for reducing constant yawning and shortness of breath, as you learn how to focus on irrational thoughts that feed your anxiety. You can start with five minutes a day and work your way up to 25 or 30 minutes.

Meditation and Yoga

5. Yoga

Yoga is a balanced and centered approach to prevent symptoms of this syndrome because it works in several ways. Movements in yoga combine breath control, meditation, and physical postures all of which are beneficial for your mental and physical health. Yoga effectively reduces stress and anxiety[6], two driving forces behind hyperventilation. Combine regular yoga practice with taking Keep Calm Gummies for the best effects.

6. Practicing mindfulness

Mindfulness allows you to stay present in the moment and be aware of your thoughts and sensations. Practicing mindfulness boosts emotional resilience and prevents hyperventilation and problems such as constant yawning and shortness of breath.

Evidence confirms[7] that mindfulness lowers anxiety and depression, to improve your mental well-being. If you’re trying to learn how to stop hyperventilating, mindfulness is a wonderful approach because it takes your focus away from thoughts that cause and worsen your anxiety.

Treating hyperventilation

While we’ve answered the question ‘What is hyperventilation?’, explaining how to recognize its symptoms and how to prevent it, you’re probably wondering how it is treated.

The main treatment approach is reassurance and breathing retraining. When a doctor rules out potential causes of hyperventilation, they reassure patients their symptoms don’t indicate the presence of a dangerous underlying problem. Healthcare professionals teach patients how to perform breathing exercises such as diaphragmatic breathing which will help reduce symptoms such as constant yawning and shortness of breath.

In patients with anxiety, managing the main triggers could help treat hyperventilation. One useful treatment approach is acupuncture because it may reduce anxiety and the severity of hyperventilation.

Always take medications as prescribed but if you aren’t comfortable with prescription medications, consult a doctor about using a combination of therapy and natural products such as Keep Calm Gummies.


What is the respiratory rate for hyperventilation?

Considering that 12 to 20 breaths per minute are normal, the respiratory rate for hyperventilation is breathing more than 20 breaths per minute[8]. The exact respiratory rate during hyperventilation may vary among patients and in different situations.

Why am I hyperventilating and crying?

You’re hyperventilating and crying because you’re experiencing intense emotions. When facing stress, the airways between the nose and lungs become tight. So, when you cry you may also experience symptoms of hyperventilation.

Is hyperventilation bad for the heart?

Hyperventilation can affect your heart by reducing the levels of carbon dioxide, which may affect the pH value of blood[9] and cause symptoms such as dizziness and chest discomfort. Moreover, hyperventilation syndrome can mimic a heart attack and feel like you may die, but it’s easy to distinguish between the two. Hyperventilation and panic attacks subside whereas heart attack symptoms keep getting worse.


Hyperventilation syndrome is usually mistaken for panic disorder, but it’s not the same condition. The underlying cause of this syndrome is unclear, but it is usually associated with anxiety and stress.

Consult a doctor on how to stop hyperventilating and make sure to practice breathing exercises and stay active. Anything that calms your mind can help reduce the likelihood of future episodes or decrease the severity of current ones.