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Common Symptoms - List in progress - Jonnyjonny_uk - 09-27-2008 09:03 PM



Hyperventilation is rapid or deep breathing, usually caused by anxiety or panic. This overbreathing, as it is sometimes called, may actually leave you feeling breathless.

When you breathe, you inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Excessive breathing may lead to low levels of carbon dioxide in your blood, which causes many of the symptoms that you may feel if you hyperventilate.

Alternative Names

Rapid deep breathing; Breathing - rapid and deep; Overbreathing; Fast deep breathing; Respiratory rate - rapid and deep


Feeling very anxious or having a panic attack are the usual reasons that you may hyperventilate. However, rapid breathing may be a symptom of an underlying disease, such as a heart or lung disorder, bleeding, or an infection. (See rapid shallow breathing.)

Your doctor will determine the cause of your hyperventilation. Rapid breathing may be considered a medical emergency -- unless you have experienced this before and have been reassured by your doctor that your hyperventilation can be self treated. (See below.).

Often, panic and hyperventilation become a vicious cycle -- panic leads to rapid breathing while breathing rapidly can make you feel panicked.

If you frequently overbreathe (sometimes referred to as hyperventilation syndrome), this may be triggered by ongoing emotions of stress, anxiety, depression, or anger. However, hyperventilation from panic is generally related to a specific fear or phobia, such as a fear of heights, dying, or closed-in spaces (claustrophobia).

If you have hyperventilation syndrome -- that is, if you regularly hyperventilate -- you might not be aware of it. But you will be aware of having many of the associated symptoms, including dizziness or lightheadedness, shortness of breath, belching, bloating, dry mouth, weakness, confusion, sleep disturbances, numbness and tingling in your arms or around your mouth, muscle spasms in hands and feet, chest pain, and palpitations.

Common Causes

anxiety and nervousness
panic attack
situations where there is a psychological advantage in having a sudden, dramatic illness (for example, somatization disorder)
stimulant use
lung disease such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung)
infection such as pneumonia or sepsis
cardiac disease such as congestive heart failure or heart attack
severe pain
drugs (such as an aspirin overdose)
ketoacidosis and similar medical conditions

Home Care

Assuming that a more serious, underlying cause of hyperventilation has been eliminated and your doctor has explained that you hyperventilate from anxiety, stress, or panic, there are steps you can take at home. You, your friends, and family can learn techniques to stop you from hyperventilating when it happens and to prevent future attacks.

If you start hyperventilating, the goal is to raise the carbon dioxide level in your blood, which will put an end to most of your symptoms. There are several ways to do this:

Reassurance from a friend or family member can help relax your breathing. Words like "you are doing fine," "you are not having a heart attack," and "you are not going to die" are very helpful. It is extremely important that the person helping you remain calm and deliver these messages with a soft, relaxed tone.
To increase your carbon dioxide, you need to take in less oxygen. To accomplish this, you can breathe through pursed lips (as if you are blowing out a candle) or you can cover your mouth and one nostril, breathing through the other nostril.
Over the long term, there are several important steps to follow to try to eliminate your tendency to overbreathe:

If anxiety or panic has been diagnosed, see a psychologist or psychiatrist to help you understand and treat your condition.
Learn breathing exercises that help you relax and breathe from your diaphragm and abdomen, rather than your chest wall.
Practice relaxation techniques regularly, such as progressive muscle relaxation or meditation.
Exercise regularly.
If these methods alone are not preventing your overbreathing, your doctor may recommend a beta blocker medication.

Call your health care provider if

You are experiencing rapid breathing for the first time. (This is a medical emergency and you should be taken to the emergency room right away.)
You are in pain, have a fever, or notice any bleeding.
Hyperventilation persists or worsens despite home treatment, or if it is accompanied by other symptoms.

What to expect at your health care provider's office

Your doctor will perform a careful physical examination.

To obtain your medical history, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms like:

Do you feel short of breath?
What other symptoms do you have when you are breathing rapidly? Do these symptoms start at any other time (for example, when you are walking or exercising)?
Do you have any underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol?
What medications do you take?
What is happening in your life in general? Has it been a particularly stressful time?
Do you feel anxious or stressed, especially before you start breathing rapidly?
Are you in pain? What does the pain feel like? How intense is the pain? Where is it located?
What other symptoms do you have (for example, have you had any bleeding? Are you dizzy?)

The doctor will assess how rapidly you are breathing at the time of the visit. If you are not breathing quickly, the physician may try to induce hyperventilation by instructing you to breathe a certain way.

While you hyperventilate, the doctor will ask how you feel and watch how you breathe -- including what muscles you are using in your chest wall and surrounding areas.

Tests that may be performed include:

X-rays of the chest
Blood tests for the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood
Chest CT scan
Ventilation/perfusion scan of your lungs

Re: Common Symptoms - List in progress - Jonnyjonny_uk - 09-28-2008 12:51 AM

Dizziness - Light-headedness

Dizziness may be experienced as lightheadedness, feeling like you might faint, being unsteady, loss of balance, or vertigo (a feeling that you or the room is spinning or moving).

Most causes of dizziness are not serious and either quickly resolve on their own or are easily treated.

Alternative Names:
Lightheadedness - dizzy; Loss of balance; Vertigo

Common Causes:
Lightheadedness happens when there is not enough blood getting to the brain. This can happen if there is a sudden drop in your blood pressure or you are dehydrated from vomiting, diarrhea, fever, or other causes. Many people, especially as they get older, experience lightheadedness if they get up too quickly from a lying or seated position. Lightheadedness often accompanies the flu, common cold, or allergies.

More serious conditions that can lead to lightheadedness include heart problems (such as abnormal heart rhythm or heart attack), stroke, and severe drop in blood pressure (shock). If any of these serious disorders is present, you will usually have additional symptoms like chest pain, a feeling of a racing heart, loss of speech, change in vision, or other symptoms.

The most common causes of vertigo are benign positional vertigo and labyrinthitis. Benign positional vertigo is vertigo that happens when you change the position of your head. Labyrinthitis usually follows a cold or flu and is caused by a viral infection of the inner ear. Meniere's disease is another common inner ear problem. It causes vertigo, loss of balance, and ringing in the ears.

Much less commonly, vertigo or feeling unsteady is a sign of stroke, multiple sclerosis, seizures, a brain tumor, or a bleed in your brain. In such conditions, other symptoms usually accompany the vertigo or imbalance.

Home Care:
If you tend to get lightheaded when you stand up, avoid sudden changes in posture.

If you are thirsty or lightheaded, drink fluids. If you are unable to keep fluids down from nausea or vomiting, you may need intravenous fluids. These are delivered to you at the hospital.

Most times, benign positional vertigo and labyrinthitis go away on their own within a few weeks. During attacks of vertigo from any cause, try to rest and lie still. Avoid sudden changes in your position as well as bright lights. Be cautious about driving or using machinery.

Some vertigo can be reduced by working with a physical therapist. Medications from your doctor may help you feel better.

Such medications include antihistamines, sedatives, or pills for nausea. For Meniere's disease, surgery may be necessary.

Call your health care provider if:
Call 911 or go to an emergency room if someone with dizziness also has:

A head injury
Fever over 101F, headache, or very stiff neck
Convulsions or ongoing vomiting
Chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness, inability to move an arm or leg, or change in vision or speech
Fainting and losing consciousness for more than a few minutes
Call your doctor if:

You have never had dizziness before.
Symptoms you have had in the past are different (for example, last longer than usual, are worse than before, or are interfering with your daily activities).
Medication is the suspected cause. Talk to your health care provider before making any changes to your medication.
You have any hearing loss.

What to expect at your health care provider's office:
Your doctor will perform a physical exam, focusing on your heart, head, ears, and nervous system, and ask question such as:

Does your dizziness feel like lightheadedness, vertigo, or imbalance?
Does your dizziness occur with a change in body position?
What other symptoms occur when you feel dizzy?
When did your dizziness begin?
Are you always dizzy or does the dizziness come and go?
How long does the dizziness last (minutes, hours)?
Did another illness develop before or after the dizziness began? How much later?
Have you had any nausea and vomiting?
Do you have a significant amount of stress or anxiety?
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
blood pressure measurements and tests
hearing tests
neurological tests
balance testing (ENG) may be required.

Promptly treat ear infections, colds, flus, sinus congestion, and other respiratory infections. This may help prevent labyrinthitis and Meniere's disease.

If you have a cold, the flu, or other viral illness, drink plenty of fluids to prevent getting dehydrated.