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How to treat hyperventilation syndrome?

Q: My wife is 26 years old and she recently experienced an excessive breathing problem. She gasps for breath and after few minutes she had stiffness in her legs and hands like a seizure. After 1 or 2 minutes she automatically becomes loose and then regains consciousness after 2-3 minutes. This happened 5 to 6 times in 24 hour. We consulted a neurologist and he did an EEG and blood test. From the report it has been found that she has hyperventilation syndrome. She gives out indications before the attack like some shock kind of feeling in her palms and then she starts breathing heavily and then the hands and legs stiffen. What can I do when I get the initial indication of the attack? Is this very dangerous to the health? The doctors say that it is due to anxiety. What is the cure?

A:Hyperventilation Syndrome is not an uncommon disorder. The mechanisms that lead to the hyperventilation itself are not clear, though emotional distress/anxiety are amongst some of the provoking factors postulated. The hyperventilation leads to a decrease in carbon dioxide levels in the blood; with respect to neurological symptoms, a drop in blood carbon dioxide leads to a corresponding decrease in blood flow to the brain, which can in turn provoke events such as seizures. I think it would be prudent for your wife to check with a primary physician with regards to her symptoms. It would be worthwhile identifying and addressing any stressors in her life at this time; furthermore there is technique of diaphragmatic breathing which the doctor (or someone he/she can refer you to) should be able to teach you - this can often be helpful. This combination of stress reduction and retraining from breathing have been found to be effective in addressing this condition.

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