Hyperventilation

Symptom Checker: Symptoms & Signs Index

Medical Author:

Hyperventilation refers to overbreathing, in which ventilation exceeds the metabolic demand, and its related physiological consequences. Excessive breathing can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, weakness, shortness of breath, a sense of unsteadiness, muscle spasms in the hands and feet, and a tingling feeling around the mouth and fingertips. All of these symptoms are the result of abnormally low levels of carbon dioxide in the blood caused by overbreathing.

The term hyperventilation syndrome (HVS) is sometimes used to describe the effects of hyperventilation observed in an emergency department setting. Many acute (sudden onset) cases of hyperventilation arise from panic, anxiety, and other emotional conditions. Hyperventilation, particularly chronic hyperventilation (that persists over time), can also be due to a range of medical conditions.

The opposite of hyperventilation is termed hypoventilation (underventilation).

Patients may experience the related symptoms of Shortness Of Breath, Cough, and/or Wheezing.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/1/2012

Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.

REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

Causes of Hyperventilation
    • Anemia Anemia is the condition of having less than the normal number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin...learn more »
    • Anxiety Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by physical symptoms. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses...learn more »
      In This Article
      Anxiety Article
      • Generalized anxiety disorder facts
      • What is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?
      • What are the different types of anxiety?
      • How common is generalized anxiety disorder?
      • What are causes and risk factors for anxiety?
      • What are anxiety symptoms and signs?
      • How is generalized anxiety disorder diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for anxiety?
      • What are the side effects of anxiety medications?
      • What are complications of generalized anxiety disorder?
      • Can anxiety be prevented?
      • What is the prognosis of generalized anxiety disorder?
      • Are there support groups for those with generalized anxiety disorder?
      • Where can people find additional information on generalized anxiety disorder?
    • Asthma Asthma is a condition in which hyperreactive airways constrict and result in symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of...learn more »
      In This Article
      Asthma Article
      • What is asthma?
      • What causes asthma?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of asthma?
      • How is asthma diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for asthma?
      • What is an asthma action plan?
      • What is the prognosis for asthma?
      • Can asthma be prevented?
    • Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Congestive heart failure (CHF) refers to a condition in which the heart loses the ability to function properly. Heart disease,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) Article
      • What is congestive heart failure (CHF)?
      • What causes congestive heart failure?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure?
      • What are the risk factors for congestive heart failure?
      • How is congestive heart failure diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for congestive heart failure?
      • What is the prognosis for congestive heart failure?
      • Can congestive heart failure be prevented?
    • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung condition caused by smoking tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke, and/or...learn more »
      In This Article
      COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Article
      • What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?
      • What are the risk factors for COPD?
      • What other diseases or conditions contribute to COPD?
      • What causes COPD?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of COPD?
      • When should I call my doctor about COPD?
      • How is COPD diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for COPD?
      • Home remedies for COPD?
      • Medications for COPD
      • Surgery to COPD
      • Can COPD be prevented?
      • What is the prognosis and life expectancy for a person with COPD?
    • Costochondritis and Tietze's Syndrome Costochondritis is inflammation of the cartilage where the ribs attach to the sternum. Tietze syndrome affects the same region of...learn more »
      In This Article
      Costochondritis and Tietze's Syndrome Article
      • What is costochondritis?
      • What causes costochondritis?
      • What are symptoms of costochondritis, and what is Tietze's syndrome?
      • How are costochondritis and Tietze's syndrome diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for costochondritis and Tietze's syndrome?
      • What is the prognosis for costochondritis and Tietze's syndrome?
      • Can costochondritis and Tietze's syndrome be prevented?
    • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a vein located deep in the muscles of the legs, thighs, pelvis (lower torso), or...learn more »
      In This Article
      Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Article
      • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) facts
      • Introduction to deep vein thrombosis
      • What are the causes of deep vein thrombosis?
      • What are the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis?
      • When should I seek medical care for deep vein thrombosis?
      • How is deep vein thrombosis diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for deep vein thrombosis?
      • What are the complications of deep vein thrombosis?
      • Can deep vein thrombosis be prevented?
    • Fever Although a fever technically is any body temperature above the normal of 98.6 degrees F. (37 degrees C.), in practice a person is...learn more »
      In This Article
      Fever Article
      • Aches, pain, fever facts
      • What is a fever?
      • What causes a fever?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of a fever?
      • How is a fever diagnosed?
      • How should I take a temperature for fever?
      • What is the treatment for a fever?
      • When should I seek medical care for a fever?
      • What are complications of a fever?
      • What is the prognosis for a fever?
      • What is the prevention for a fever?
    • Fitness Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of disease. Regular exercise can also reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety....learn more »
      In This Article
      Fitness Article
      • The importance of physical activity and fitness
      • Why should I be active?
      • Can everyone benefit from physical activity?
      • What are the recommendations for increasing fitness for youth, adults, and seniors?
      • How do I get started with a fitness plan?
      • When is a medical evaluation necessary?
      • How can I make physical activity a part of my life?
      • What are the components of physical fitness?
      • Fitness terms
    • Heart Attack Heart attack happens when a blood clot completely obstructs a coronary artery supplying blood to the heart muscle. A heart...learn more »
      In This Article
      Heart Attack Article
      • Heart attack facts
      • What is a heart attack?
      • What causes a heart attack?
      • What are the symptoms of a heart attack?
      • What are the complications of a heart attack?
      • What are the risk factors for atherosclerosis and heart attack?
      • How is a heart attack diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for heart attack?
      • What about heart attacks in women?
      • What are the risk factors for heart attack in women?
      • What are the symptoms of heart attack in women and how is heart attack diagnosed?
      • How is heart attack in women treated?
      • What about hormone therapy and heart attack in women?
      • What is new in heart attack?
    • Hyperthyroidism Hyperthyroidism is an excess of thyroid hormone resulting from an overactive thyroid gland. Symptoms can include increased heart...learn more »
      In This Article
      Hyperthyroidism Article
      • What is hyperthyroidism?
      • What are the thyroid hormones?
      • Thyroid hormone regulation - the chain of command
      • What causes hyperthyroidism?
      • What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
      • How is hyperthyroidism diagnosed?
      • How is hyperthyroidism treated?
      • What's best for you?
      • Hyperthyroidism At A Glance
    • Meningitis Encephalitis is a brain inflammation that causes sudden fever, vomiting, headache, light sensitivity, stiff neck and back,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Meningitis Article
      • Encephalitis and meningitis facts
      • What is encephalitis?
      • What causes encephalitis?
      • What are encephalitis symptoms and signs?
      • What is meningitis?
      • What causes meningitis?
      • What are meningitis symptoms and signs?
      • What is encephalomyelitis?
      • How are encephalitis and meningitis diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment of encephalitis and meningitis?
      • What is the prognosis (outlook) for patients with encephalitis or meningitis?
      • Is meningitis contagious?
      • Can meningitis be prevented?
    • Panic Attacks Panic attacks are sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning. These episodes can occur at any time, even during sleep....learn more »
      In This Article
      Panic Attacks Article
      • Panic attack facts
      • What are panic attacks?
      • What are panic attack symptoms and signs in adults, teenagers, and children?
      • Are panic attacks serious?
      • What are causes and risk factors for panic attacks?
      • How is panic disorder diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for panic attacks? What medications treat panic attacks?
      • What are complications of untreated panic attacks?
      • What is the prognosis for panic disorder?
      • How are panic attacks prevented?
    • Pleural Effusion Pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid in the chest or on the lungs. There are two types of pleural effusion, trandsudate and...learn more »
      In This Article
      Pleural Effusion Article
      • Pleural effusion definition
      • What are the causes of pleural effusion?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of pleural effusion?
      • What are the risk factors for pleural effusion?
      • How is pleural effusion diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for pleural effusion?
      • What are the complications of pleural effusion?
      • Can pleural effusion be prevented?
    • Pneumonia Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Symptoms and signs include cough, fever, shortness...learn more »
      In This Article
      Pneumonia Article
      • Pneumonia facts
      • What is pneumonia?
      • What are the different types of pneumonia?
      • What causes pneumonia?
      • What are risk factors for pneumonia?
      • What are pneumonia symptoms and signs?
      • How do doctors diagnose pneumonia?
      • What is the treatment for pneumonia?
      • What are complications of pneumonia?
      • What is the prognosis of pneumonia?
      • Is it possible to prevent pneumonia? Is there a pneumonia vaccine?
    • Pneumothorax A pneumothorax is free air in the chest outside the lung, that causes the lung to collapse (collapsed lung). There are two types...learn more »
      In This Article
      Pneumothorax Article
      • Pneumothorax facts
      • What is a pneumothorax?
      • What are the types of pneumothorax?
      • What are the causes of pneumothorax?
      • Who is at risk for pneumothorax?
      • What is a tension pneumothorax?
      • What are the signs and symptoms of pneumothorax?
      • How is pneumothorax diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for pneumothorax?
      • What is the outcome (prognosis) of pneumothorax?
    • Pulmonary Edema Pulmonary edema (swelling or fluid in the lungs) can either be caused by cardiogenic causes (congestive heart failure, heart...learn more »
      In This Article
      Pulmonary Edema Article
      • Pulmonary edema facts
      • What is pulmonary edema?
      • What causes pulmonary edema?
      • What are the risk factors for pulmonary edema?
      • What are the symptoms of pulmonary edema?
      • When should I seek medical care for pulmonary edema?
      • How is pulmonary edema diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for pulmonary edema?
      • What are the complications of pulmonary edema?
      • How can pulmonary edema be prevented?
    • Sepsis Sepsis (blood poisoning) is a potentially deadly infection with signs and symptoms that include elevated heart rate, low or high...learn more »
      In This Article
      Sepsis Article
      • Sepsis (blood poisoning) facts
      • What is blood poisoning?
      • What is sepsis?
      • Why are there so many diseases with "sepsis," "septic," "septicemia," or "blood poisoning" in their name?
      • What causes sepsis?
      • What are the risk factors for sepsis?
      • What are the signs or symptoms of sepsis (blood poisoning)?
      • How is sepsis diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for sepsis?
      • What is the prognosis (outcome) with sepsis?
      • What are the complications of sepsis?
      • How can sepsis be prevented?
      • What are some additional sources for information on sepsis?
    • Shock (Medical) Medical shock is a life-threatening medical condition. There are several types of medical shock, septic shock, anaphylactic...learn more »
      In This Article
      Shock (Medical) Article
      • Shock facts
      • What is shock?
      • What are the types of shock?
      • What are the causes of shock?
      • What are the symptoms of shock?
      • When should I seek medical care for shock?
      • What is the treatment for shock?
      • Can shock be prevented?
      • What is the outlook for shock?
    • Stress Stress occurs when forces from the outside world impinge on the individual. Stress is a normal part of life. However,...learn more »
      In This Article
      Stress Article
      • Stress facts
      • What is stress?
      • A brief history of stress
      • What are the signs and symptoms of poorly managed stress?
      • Who is most vulnerable to stress?
      • Teen stress
      • What is the healthy response to stress?
      • How does the response to stress work?
      • What is the role of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (grouping) in stress?
      • What is the role of the locus coeruleus in stress?
      • How do the connections in the brain work in stress?
      • What do we know about using (activating) and overusing our internal systems that respond to stress?
      • What are the effects of stress on medical and psychological conditions?
      • Conclusions about the effects of stress
      • What can people do for stress management?
      • What's in the future for stress?
    • Stroke A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding...learn more »
      In This Article
      Stroke Article
      • Stroke facts
      • What is a stroke?
      • What are the different types of stroke?
      • What are the warning signs of a stroke?
      • What are the symptoms of a stroke?
      • How is a stroke diagnosed?
      • What is the treatment for stroke?
      • What is the prognosis for stroke?
      • Is recovery after a stroke possible?
      • What is stroke rehabilitation?
      • Can strokes be prevented?
Other Causes of Hyperventilation
Examples of Medications for Hyperventilation



STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!