Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chronic Hyperventilation Treatment Is A Rare and Wonderful Thing

Chronic Hyperventilation treatment really is a rare and wonderful thing. It is rare because there are few practitioners that know how to treat this breathing disorder and wonderful because treatment when you can get it is life altering.

The symptoms of chronic hyperventilation are unpleasant but not usually life threatening by themselves. However the uncomfortable sensations of dizziness, inability to take a deep breath, pins and needles and chest pain (among others) do tend to worsen over time. Eventually you start to feel desperate because no one can tell you what is wrong with you and no one can offer you much help or advice. You might have been told you are simply suffering from anxiety or panic disorder (not that there's anything simple about either of those things) or that the problem is something that will probably just go away. Unlikely!

So, if you are one of the lucky(?) ones who has somehow figured out that overbreathing might be what ails you, then help is at hand if you know where to look for it.

The first thing to do is go online and look for practitioners in your area who specialize in breathing disorders. Most Buteyko breathing practitioners will have knowledge and experience with chronic hyperventilation treatment and they are listed on the web. Physiotherapists can also help, but check that they have a specialist interest in breathing disorders. Physiotherapists and physical therapists specialize in a variety of areas and not all will be versed in this area. Some chiropractors and massage therapists can also help but once again, check if they have expertise in managing overbreathing and other breathing disorders. Chronic hyperventilation treatment is no laughing matter so as with most things, you want to make sure you find someone who knows what they are talking about. You might even ask a practitioner if they'll give you your money back if you're not satisfied after an initial consultation. Most will, as they will want to be confident themselves that they can help you or they will not want to charge you.

What can you expect from chronic hyperventilation treatment? It will vary. In my clinic I go through a very thorough assessment process so that I can be confident that it is pure chronic hyperventilation and not some other cause for your distress. This involves some extensive questioning and the completion of an internationally validated assessment tool called the Nijmegen Questionnaire. I will also want to know what investigations you have had and what other disorders have been ruled out. There is no single diagnostic process for chronic hyperventilation syndrome, it is more a matter of assessing all the information and ruling other things out.

Then comes a physical assessment of your breathing rate and pattern: How do you breathe? How fast do you breathe? What is your heart rate? What is your carbon dioxide level (I have a capnometer that measures this)? Is your breathing pattern an upper chest pattern? Do you use your diaphragm when you breathe at rest? Is your breathing rate regular or irregular? Do you sigh and/or yawn a lot (i.e. am I boring you? Just kidding, this is actually an important diagnostic indicator).

There are a variety of things a practitioner should look at in order to properly assess what your problem is and how it can best be approached in terms of chronic hyperventilation treatment. A thorough assessment and explanation is something you should certainly expect and feel confident about. If this does not occur, politely excuse yourself and do not return! I am sure by the time you have been told that overbreathing or chronic hyperventilation syndrome might be what is troubling you then you are in no mood to waste your time or money with ineffective treatment. This doesn't mean however that the practitioner can do the work for you. No sirree Bob. In order to treat the overbreathing you are going to have to commit to doing a few things yourself!

Next blog post I will talk more about what you might expect with chronic hyperventilation treatment.

Legal Disclaimer: Unfortunately, because of the litigious world in which we live, I must remind you that this blog expresses my opinion only. Although my opinion is based on the most up to date, published research I can find, it has still been interpreted by me and remains an opinion, not fact. It takes a very long time for scientific theory to be classified as fact. Theories are usually 'proven' and 'disproven' for years before consensus is reached. So really, consider everything you read, here or anywhere else, as a theory and as information that may or may not apply to and/or assist you. I suggest you use any information you get here to start a discussion with a knowledgeable, compassionate health professional as to how it relates to your situation. I am not liable for any injury that you suffer supposedly as a result of anything you read here.


  1. Nice article. Can you post some tips on how to cure an attack. I hyperventilate everyday now for like 5 years. My life's a living hell. I find it more debilitating than drug addiction, which I have had, but no more. I need help bad but I have no health insurance and like you stated, many doctors do not know how to help in this area.

    1. Hi I also have hyperventilated 24.7 for the past two years , , they don't know the cause , , they've ruled out any serious diseases etc , im doing breathing exercises but they're not helping , , this condition is like a living hell, , can anybody advise me of anything I can do ??