Treating Symptoms Can Make Breathing Worse

Common symptoms of hyperventilation, like shortness of breath, running nose and chest pain can be found in other diseases or conditions, and while the symptoms are obvious, hyperventilation is often quite difficult to detect because people seldom check their breathing. This means that frequently the hyperventilating person is misdiagnosed as having another condition, such as asthma or angina.

If your symptom is one that involves difficulty breathing, such as frequently feeling that you cannot take a satisfying breath or hay fever, then perhaps you are more likely to think that the way you are breathing is a possible cause, but if it is cold hands and feet, or tingling in your arms, then it is less likely to be considered. However, because breathing affects every cell in your body, it is possible to have symptoms that often seem to have nothing at all to do with breathing.

If you do have some kind of breathing restriction as one of your symptoms, when this is treated with drugs, gadgets, surgery or machines that mechanically open the airways for lengthy periods, the symptoms are likely to get worse, or new ones will develop as your breathing increases over time.

This is because the breathing centre in the brain will get used to this extra breathing while the drug or machine is active, and consequently you will continue to breathe a tiny bit more air even when this drug or machine is not being used.

An example of this is when a hyperventilating person starts out with intermittent hay fever and begins to take nasal dilators to treat the symptoms. In the short term this helps, but in the long term it allows even more over-breathing and before very long the hay fever becomes more chronic. Perhaps the person also develops other hyperventilation-related symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, irritability, cold hands and feet, or dry itchy skin.

If however, the breathing was dealt with at the start of the problem, then there would have been less need for nasal dilators and the problem would not have worsened.

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