Chronic Hyperventilation? 4 Exercises That Will Help You

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Stop and cure chronic hyperventilation

You have not been feeling well in your own skin for a while. You don’t sleep well, you feel very tired and sometimes you get dizzy for no reason at all.

Moreover, you are easily irritated and you often just start crying

Recognizable?

Then you may be suffering from chronic hyperventilation .

Would you like to learn more about chronic hyperventilation and how to get it under control?

Then read this article carefully. It can help you to find out if you suffer from chronic hyperventilation.

Purpose of this article: with the help of this article you will better understand chronic hyperventilation. On the basis of this article you can find out if you suffer from chronic hyperventilation.

The exercises in this article also help to control this annoying condition.


What is Chronic Hyperventilation?

There are two forms of hyperventilation: acute hyperventilation and chronic hyperventilation.

In acute hyperventilation, the symptoms can be very frightening, but they usually pass after 20 to 30 minutes.

Woman with hyperventilation breathes into a bag

With chronic hyperventilation you can experience the same symptoms, but a whole series of other complaints can be added.

These usually do not just disappear after a certain time, but can be present dormant. Over time, these can even get worse. But more on this later.

Today I want to talk specifically about chronic hyperventilation.

To make it clear what chronic hyperventilation is, I would like to explain to you exactly why you start hyperventilating.

Hyperventilation has everything to do with breathing. Very literally, hyperventilation means ‘to ventilate (breathe) too much’.

Woman with chronic hyperventilation breathes too much and lies with her head against the couch

Normal breathing

When you breathe, you inhale oxygen-rich air and exhale carbon dioxide. Your body’s cells need oxygen to function.

The hemoglobin of the red blood cells ensures that all cells are supplied with the necessary oxygen.

A combustion process then takes place. After all, the oxygen still has to be converted into energy.

Red blood cells that convert air into energy

This is done by burning the glucose that is in the cells. This entire combustion process releases carbon dioxide and water.

These substances are dissolved in the blood. As a result, they return to the lungs from where you exhale them. This is what happens with normal breathing.


Disturbed breathing

If you hyperventilate, you are breathing too fast and too deeply.

Man with hand to chest

As a result, you exhale more carbon dioxide than your body produces. Your body senses that something is not right and goes on the defensive.

Your blood vessels narrow and your organs do not receive enough oxygen-rich blood. This causes the typical symptoms of acute hyperventilation.

These symptoms are palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, etc…

  • For a full list of these symptoms, please refer to the article  What Is Hyperventilation? Simple Explanation + Symptoms & Tips.

But what about exactly?

Chronic hyperventilation is also called hyperventilation syndrome. In English one speaks of dysfunctional breathing.

Man puts fingers on woman's stomach to help with her hyperventilation

This English name actually describes exactly what chronic hyperventilation is: a disturbed way of breathing.

With chronic hyperventilation you have – unconsciously – taught yourself to breathe incorrectly. For a long time you have been breathing incorrectly for some reason and this has become normal for you.

The strange thing is that there is not always an obvious reason for this. However, there are a number of causes that can cause a wrong breathing pattern.

Woman inhales slowly with hand in front of her nose

The most common causes of a wrong breathing mechanism are:

However, other causes can also be at the basis of chronic hyperventilation:

Man with one hand on his forehead and one on his lower back

Whatever the cause of your chronic hyperventilation, it is a very annoying condition.

Above all, remember that it is not a disease, but a symptom of another condition. 

However, this does not mean that you cannot feel bad because of your chronic hyperventilation.

It can give such a variety of symptoms and exhaust you so much that your daily life suffers.

Woman with pain in her chest and hand on her chest

Possible complaints

In addition to the typical symptoms of hyperventilation, you can also experience many other complaints with chronic hyperventilation:

  • An ever-present pressure on the chest
  • High bloodpressure
  • Muscle pain and muscle cramps
  • Being out of breath quickly
  • wheezing
  • Yawn or sigh very often
  • Cough regularly
  • A general stuffy feeling
  • Feeling light-headed, headache and blurred vision
  • Extreme fatigue, both mental and physical
  • Concentration disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Being emotional and irritable easily
  • Depression

These are all symptoms that may indicate that you are suffering from chronic hyperventilation. Precisely because these complaints can be so diverse, the diagnosis of chronic hyperventilation is often made very late.

Based on scientific research, medical guidelines have been drawn up for doctors to diagnose chronic hyperventilation.


What to do in case of chronic hyperventilation?

As I explained to you earlier in this article, you have taught yourself the wrong way to breathe if you have chronic hyperventilation.

To overcome chronic hyperventilation you will have to teach yourself to breathe correctly again.

Woman with hands at her throat due to hyperventilation

The best way to do this is by using different breathing techniques. Breathing techniques can help you regain control of your breathing. This slows it down and also reduces the stress associated with it.

To learn how to breathe correctly again, you can call in the help of a physiotherapist. But you might as well do this on your own. You don’t have to deal with it all day either.

Practicing breathing techniques every now and then will teach you to breathe properly again. You can do this when you’re sitting comfortably on the couch, but just as well when you’re waiting in the car for a while.

Woman sitting on the sofa with her hands behind her head and breathing in calmly

You can also easily do your breathing exercises during the break at work.

If you practice regularly, your new way of breathing will become more natural. This way you will suffer less from your chronic hyperventilation.

If you breathe correctly again, your chronic hyperventilation can even disappear for good.


Exercise 1: Breathe from your belly

The most natural way to breathe is from your abdomen (the diaphragm plays an important role in this).

Woman learns to breathe through her belly

The problem with chronic hyperventilation is that you usually breathe from your chest. So you will have to retrain yourself to breathe from your belly.

You can do this as follows:

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable place.
  • Place your hands just below your ribs.
  • Concentrate well on your stomach and your hands.
  • If you inhale and exhale slowly from your abdomen, you will notice that your hands go up and down. When inhaling, your hands should rise. When you exhale, these should go back down. Can you do this? This means that your diaphragm is doing its job properly and that you are really breathing from your belly.

Don’t give up right away if you find this way of breathing difficult. After all, practice makes perfect. Repeat this exercise 3 to 4 times a day until your body considers this a normal way of breathing.

Woman lies on the floor and breathes through her belly

Exercise 2: Breathe into a rectangle

In English this exercise is called ‘ window breathing’ .

This exercise teaches you to breathe correctly again, but also helps when you feel an acute attack of hyperventilation coming on.

  • Imagine a rectangle in your mind.
  • Concentrate well on the shape of this rectangle. The short sides are at the top and bottom, the long sides are the sides. This is important because the time you inhale should be slightly shorter than the time you exhale.
  • Start inhaling while looking at the top left corner. Follow this top line as you inhale.
  • When you reach the top right corner, exhale to the bottom right corner. You will feel that you exhale more consciously. Following this downward movement also makes it seem like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. This literally feels like a form of relaxation.
  • Inhale again and follow the line to the bottom left corner.
  • From there, go back up while exhaling slowly.
Woman takes a deep breath in and out with her eyes closed

An extra tip:  during this exercise, try to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth with pursed lips.

Even if you do this exercise a few times a day, you will notice that you start to breathe in a calmer way.


Exercise 3: Dr. Andrew Weil’s Breathing Method

Doctor Andrew Weil is a famous American doctor who mainly practices alternative medicine.

He has also developed a breathing method that can help you to breathe correctly again. This method is also known as the 4-7-8 method .

Woman sitting on the floor with hand on her chest due to hyperventilation

For this method, proceed as follows:

  • Sit up straight and try to breathe only with your stomach. If you place your hands on your stomach, you can feel whether you are indeed breathing with your stomach.
  • Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts.
  • Hold your breath for 7 counts.
  • Then exhale for 8 counts. Do this with your lips slightly apart and make a rustling sound.

This way of breathing ensures that you breathe much calmer. This keeps the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in balance.

This ensures that you are less likely to hyperventilate. Also repeat this exercise a few times a day.

Woman Breathing Slowly

Exercise 4: Move

This fourth exercise doesn’t really have much to do with breathing techniques. Still, I consider this an important exercise for the following reason:

The symptoms of chronic hyperventilation can be so intense that you don’t feel like being active at all. I am thinking especially of fatigue, shortness of breath and of course fear.

Once you avoid being active because of your chronic hyperventilation, there is a good chance that you will end up in a vicious circle.

Man is lying on the couch watching TV

You feel tired and often have shortness of breath, so you move less. After all, you are afraid that these complaints have a physical cause.

By moving less, your muscle strength decreases. Weak muscles need more oxygen to work properly. This will make you breathless again and we have come back to the beginning of the circle.

Above all, realize that it is very normal for your breathing and heart rate to accelerate when you move. Your muscles and organs then need more oxygen.

Running woman

Your body achieves this by:

  • Increase your heart rate.
  • Deeper breathing.
  • Make your muscles work harder.

If you want to get rid of your chronic hyperventilation, don’t stop moving. Do this – especially in the beginning – in a calm and responsible manner.

I hope this article has helped you better understand chronic hyperventilation. With the exercises at the end of this article, I have given you a helping hand to overcome chronic hyperventilation.

Quality of life is very important, so why let chronic hyperventilation rule your life?

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