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PPL » Human Factors » Hyperventilation

10.12 Hyperventilation

10.12.2 Define hyperventilation.

Hyperventilation is a condition in which a person breathes rapidly and deeply, causing a decrease in the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood.

Healthy breathing occurs with a healthy balance between breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide. 

You upset this balance when you hyperventilate by exhaling more than you inhale.

The carbon dioxide concentration of the blood reduces to below its normal level because more carbon dioxide is being exhaled than is being produced in the body.  

The chemistry of the blood changes as a consequence of the deficiency of carbon dioxide and the acidity of the body falls below its normal level.  


10.12.4 Explain the causes of hyperventilation.

The causes of hyperventilation can be both physical and emotional.


Physical causes can include:

  • exercise,
  • high altitude, or
  • certain medical conditions such as asthma, pneumonia, or a blood clot in the lung.


Emotional causes can include:

  • anxiety,
  • stress,
  • panic attacks, or
  • other psychological disorders.


In many cases, hyperventilation is a response to a stressful or anxiety-provoking situation, and can be treated by addressing the underlying emotional factors.


10.12.6 Describe the symptoms of hyperventilation.

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