If you suffer from hyperventilation syndrome you are probably familiar with the symptoms; difficulty breathing; being unable to take a deep breath; sighing and yawning a lot; tingling in hands; pins and needles around the mouth; among other unpleasant and annoying sensations. However you may have found finding appropriate treatment for hyperventilation syndrome a frustrating exercise. Treatment for overbreathing is all about learning to breathe easy!
See my earlier blog posts to learn more about chronic hyperventilation or overbreathing, what it is, what causes it, how to find a breathing disorders specialist and so on.
The aim of treatment is to restore chronically low levels of carbon dioxide and to prevent them getting low during times of stress. This may mean a complete overhaul of your breathing pattern. I have mentioned in earlier postings that many people who hyperventilate breathe using their upper chest muscles instead of their diaphragm. This is very inefficient and ultimately becomes tiring and painful as the rib cage is a heavy thing for small muscles of the chest to be hauling up and down several thousand times a day. You owe it to yourself to learn not to do it! So that's one thing - learn how to breathe with the diaphragm. And for all of you A-type personalities, this includes during those times when you're screaming at your stock broker or traffic has made you late for the meeting. We are not talking about Zen meditation sessions where you lie back and practice diaphragmatic breathing for 20 minutes, we mean learning how to do this 24/7.
Next is learning how to keep your mouth shut. Albert Einstein said "If A equals success, then the formula is: A=X+Y+Z. X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut." Now, he may or may not have been only referring to knowing when not to offer your opinion, but I like to think that Einstein, being the smart guy he was, also knew a thing or two about breathing. If you are a habitual mouth breather, and many of you are, then you are probably gulping down too much air. So, another aim of hyperventilation syndrome treatment is learning how to breathe through the nose. Once again, we mean day and night, 24/7, all the time, with possible exceptions for heavy exercise! Your nose cleans, filters, warms and humidifies the air. It even removes some bacteria. Your mouth is just a big wide wind tunnel. Which would you rather have going into your lungs - nose air or mouth air?
Treatment for overbreathing also involves learning how to breathe less. Quiet breathing. Breathing you can't hear and can barely see. Low volume, low rate. Breathing that is just enough for your body's metabolic requirements. Sounds easy, but if you were doing this already then you wouldn't have hyperventilation symptoms. Learning to reduce the volume of ventilation is not an easy thing to do as it involves putting up with some air hunger for awhile. You will need to set aside some practice sessions whereby you perform breathing exercises that induce air hunger. The exercises are not onerous but they do require a committment.
But hey, you want to feel better, right? None of this is difficult, it just requires some motivation and perseverence. A good breathing disorders specialist will help guide you and you will more than likely come out the other end, in just a few weeks, symptom free and less swept up by the stressful events in your life. For more information go to www.breathingwise.com.
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.