If you are struggling with controlling your breathing when in stressful or other situations, you might benefit from learning how to prevent hyperventilation from happening. That is why we’re here, to teach you all the best ways to deal with your problem. Keep reading to find out how, when, and why hyperventilation may occur and what to do about it when it happens to you.
How to Prevent and Treat Hyperventilation?
Hyperventilation is, prior to everything, an uncomfortable experience. And although it can feel like an unstoppable force when it’s underway, there are ways to both prevent and treat it. This isn’t a condition you’ll have to deal with forever if you learn how to handle it now. Treating a problem doesn’t always have to involve the use of medication, though – sometimes it all starts by educating yourself, obtaining relevant information on the subject, and then finding the method of treatment that works for you.
First Comes Finding the Cause, Then Treating the Problem
It is important to know that the course of treatment or potential use of any doctor doctor-related medicine will depend on what the root of your problem is. For example, the best answers to the question of how to prevent hyperventilation during pregnancy won’t necessarily work for those wondering how to prevent hyperventilation while running or for those experiencing a panic attack.
We are about to present you with tips and easy steps that will bring your nervous system back in balance and calm yourself down. Likewise, if you are wondering how to help someone hyperventilating, this information will also work, even if you are not the one experiencing the symptoms.
It might seem as if you are the only one dealing with this uncomfortable experience, but about 9,5% of adults have hyperventilation syndrome, and many others experience it occasionally
#1 Learn What Hyperventilation Is and What Are the Most Common Symptoms
The first step to dealing with hyperventilation is learning more about it, so we’ve prepared a little crash course for you on the matter. Hyperventilation is basically the condition of breathing very fast, without being able to easily control your breath. Because you exhale more than you inhale, the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body becomes disturbed.
Because of the reduced levels of carbon dioxide in your body, the blood vessels start narrowing, which reduces the supply of blood to the brain. This leads a person to feel lightheaded and experience sensations like tingling in their fingers. Other associated symptoms include shortness of breath, dry mouth, confusion, trouble with sleeping, chest pain, and muscle spasms, to name the most common ones.
What Triggers Hyperventilation?
Some people hyperventilate quite rarely as a response to stress or the experience of phobia or fear. However, for some, it is a frequent syndrome that shows up as a result of dealing with depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Although it is most commonly recognized as a panic attack, it can show up due to other causes, such as:
Learning about the issues is the first step to overcoming it
#2 Find the Root Of Your Stress so That You Can Treat It Accordingly
If the rhythm of your breath changes as a result of stress, your first task is to figure out what is triggering you so that you can treat the problem accordingly. For example, if, as a busy woman in the workplace, you find your main trigger to be work-related stress in the office, you might consider getting a different job and excluding yourself from a toxic work environment. However, at the same time, it is still recommended that you see a counselor for women in order to learn techniques and introduce adequate self-care into your daily routine to prevent this from happening in the future.
If you are finding it difficult to figure out your triggers on your own, try researching ”women’s therapy near me”. Scheduling your first session with a licensed therapist of color could help you determine the root cause, as well as provide you with personalized ways of dealing with the issue.
Can Hyperventilation Syndrome Be Cured?
First of all, don’t worry – most patients will have their breath pattern go back to normal. However, depending on the underlying cause, it will take more or less time and work to get there. For example, if the root is physical, meaning that you are experiencing pregnancy or have overworked your body while working out – it’s just a matter of time.
If you think you are dealing with an acute syndrome, you’ll have to do some basic tests, such as pulse oximetry, chest X-ray, and ECG, to rule out any strictly physical conditions. Additionally, you might want to consult psychologists or therapists to see if cognitive therapy or medication is going to be needed as well.
Knowing what triggers your attacks will enable you to find adequate treatment for your problem
#3 Breathing Techniques Can Help You Restore the Balance of Oxygen
As we explained what happens in your body when an attack occurs, it makes sense that one of the best mechanisms for resolving the problem would be introducing breathing exercises into your daily routine. These will restore the levels of carbon dioxide in your blood and slow down your breath.
Breathing Techniques Are the Best Method to Care for Yourself at Home
There are multiple breathing techniques you could try out at home. It may just so happen that all of these work for you or that just one of these self-care techniques helps you calm down. And while having more options for self-care at home makes the situation easier, finding even one that works for you will be enough. Some of the most commonly used exercises that give the best results are the following:
Breathing through pursed lips – Because it’s harder to hyperventilate when you breathe through your nose or pursed lips, the recommendation is to close one nostril or position your lips like you’re whistling to slow the breath down.
Counting while breathing – Count the seconds while you breathe. For example, breathe in through your nose for three seconds, and then breathe out through your mouth slowly for four.
Belly-breaths – Placing one hand on your belly and the other on your chest, start breathing through your nose in a way that your belly moves while your chest is still. Take your time with this exercise, and repeat the steps until your breath slows down.
Meditation and yoga are also great ways to calm down your body and breath
#4 For Those Wondering How to Prevent Hyperventilation in Panic Attacks, Reassurance From a Friend Could Be the Best Short Term Treatment
When you experience panic attacks and anxiety, most of the time, it means your nervous system is overwhelmed. And since it chooses to let go of steam by placing your body in a panicking mode, it also means that it lacks a healthier coping mechanism to calm itself down. So, the next time you start feeling the onset symptoms of a panic or anxiety attack, try talking to someone near you and sharing how you feel.
We know that most of the time, people aren’t comfortable opening up to those around them for support. However, human contact is one of the easiest ways to calm yourself down. And trust us, since the world is currently in a state of an overwhelming mental health crisis, you might run into a response that is much more empathetic than what you might initially conceive of.
We aren't always aware of this, but our friends can be the biggest stress relievers you can think of
#5 If You Are Prone to Fainting, Try to Notice Warning Signs and Inform Those Around You
If you are wondering how to prevent fainting during hyperventilation, the first step is to watch out for the warning signs, such as lightheadedness, dizziness, vision changes, sweating, and nausea. The moment you experience any of these, try informing those around you so that they are ready in case you faint. If it’s possible, lie down the moment you see an oncoming fainting episode.
If not, try to sit down with your head between your knees and focus on your breath through some of the aforementioned techniques. Make sure people around you are aware you might faint so that you can be sure they’ll stop you from falling down and hurting yourself.
Is It Ok to Drink Water When Hyperventilating?
A study shows that dehydration can partially explain why you are experiencing these attacks. The intake of water directly affects a lot of things in your body – your respiratory system included. So, make sure to increase the amount of water you intake daily, and if you are drinking it while hyperventilating, just focus on your breath to avoid any complications.
Prescribed Medical Treatment Is the Best Way to Restore Any Imbalance in Your Body
If you’ve fainted multiple times or are experiencing the onset of these attacks frequently, we would recommend seeing a licensed health professional for tests and exams relating to your condition. A medical professional would be best able to explain what is happening in your body specifically and provide you with information on how to deal with it in the future. A doctor might even prescribe medication to help you restore any chemical imbalances in your body and continue your day-to-day life with the least complications possible.
: It is important to check up on your health with a medical professional if you experience fainting regularly
Starting Therapy Could Help You Recognize Common Triggers and Learn How to Prevent Hyperventilation
Medical professionals may tell you that your problem is psychological in nature but won’t be able to help much further than that. And this is where starting women’s counseling comes in. Counselors for women are trained to help you recognize specific problems you are dealing with, such as racism, misogyny, or homophobia, and help you create better coping mechanisms for when you are feeling triggered.
That is why most of the time, researching ”women’s therapist near me” or ”workshops and counseling for women near me” can be the starting point of putting your panic attacks and hyperventilation under control. It may sound like a cliche, but therapy does work, especially in problems that consider both the mind and body. While it can take some time to get yourself to book a session, once you do, you’ll be glad you’ve started your mental health journey.
WOC Reflections features weekly interviews and wellness tips delivered to your inbox.