What Causes Hyperventilation?
Moksha’s anxiety necklaces are designed to provide those who suffer from hyperventilating with a tool to control their breathing. Although it’s called an anxiety necklace, an anxiety disorder isn’t the only condition that causes hyperventilation. Below, we explore what happens during hyperventilation and the different conditions that feature it as a major symptom.
What Happens During Hyperventilation?
Hyperventilation (sometimes referred to as over-breathing) is a common side effect of panic attacks and anxiety disorders. While it is most often associated with anxiety, there are many other reasons why this pleasant sensation happens. Before we dive deeper into those causes, let’s take a look at what hyperventilation is.
Hyperventilation happens when our breathing pattern becomes too fast. Typically, the average person takes between 12 and 15 breaths per minute. When our breathing rate is healthy, our bodies are taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. If our breathing rate becomes too fast, this exchange becomes unbalanced; your body exhales more carbon dioxide than it can inhale oxygen.
When this process happens, it leads to a reduction of both oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the bloodstream. This can cause the following symptoms:
- Racing heartbeat
- Numbness or tingling
- Chest tightness
- Weakness, confusion
Although studies have found that approximately 9.5% of the general adult population have had experiences with hyperventilating, that doesn’t change how scary and confusing it can be. To prevent it from happening again, you need to get to the bottom of the condition that causes it.
Hyperventilation: The Conditions That Can Cause It
Over breathing can happen to anyone, at any time. While generally associated with periods of emotional distress, activities such as exercise have also been known to trigger a rapid breathing pattern. Below, we take a look at all the conditions that can cause hyperventilation.
Emotional Distress: Stress and Anxiety
Emotional distress is one of the most common causes of hyperventilation and rapid breathing patterns. Fear, stress, panic, and anxiety all fall under the umbrella of emotional distress. Whether these feelings were triggered by a particular event (e.g. sudden shock or a night terror) or a panic attack came on suddenly, this can lead to acute hyperventilation
A period of intense exercise is also known for changing a person’s breathing pattern. As you exercise, your brain sends a signal to your respiratory system to increase your breathing rate to meet oxygen demands. However, if there is too much lactic acid build-up from the exercise this can cause your breathing to become abnormally fast. This can result in exercise-induced hyperventilation.
Another common hyperventilation cause is pregnancy. Many women experience breathing difficulties while they are pregnant. As the womb grows to accommodate space for the growing baby, it occupies more space in the abdomen. This results in the diaphragm having less space to expand, leading to feelings of breathlessness.
When pregnant women feel that they can’t breathe as deeply as before, this can cause them to start panicking and experience over-breathing.
COPD and Asthma
Various lung diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are also known to cause rapid breathing patterns. As these conditions are known for narrowing the airways and making it harder to breathe, symptoms such as chronic hyperventilation are common. In most cases, this will also be accompanied by coughing, wheezing, and chest pain.
How to Treat Hyperventilation
Feeling like you can’t catch your breath can be a scary experience, but you must stay calm. To overcome this episode you will need to slow down your breathing rate so that you can increase carbon dioxide levels in your bloodstream.
Use these simple steps to help you the next time that you’re experiencing rapid breathing:
- Breathe slowly into cupped hands
- Practice relaxing breathing techniques such as the 4-7-8 method
- Try alternate nostril breathing
- Hold your breath for 10 - 15 seconds
- Go for a brisk walk or jog to regulate your breathing pattern
The aim is to regain control over your breathing rate by taking a moment to slow down and focus on your breath. This can be a great grounding technique especially if you are feeling stressed or panicked.
Breathe Easier With Moksha’s Anxiety Necklace
One of the best ways to prevent the onset of hyperventilation is to practice deep breathing exercises. A deep breathing tool such as an anxiety necklace can act as a ‘security blanket’ in times of stress and panic. When you feel your breathing rate getting faster, simply breathe in through the nose and then exhale out using the Beam.
Moksha’s anxiety necklace regulates your exhalations, allowing you to experience the benefits of deep breathing and mindfulness breathing - effectively relieving anxiety and hyperventilation symptoms. For more information on how the Beam works, feel free to reach out to us or browse our store.