CPR First Aid

What is the First Aid for Hyperventilation?

What is the First Aid for Hyperventilation

Various resources such as MyHealth Alberta, a Canadian health information service, recommend applying breathing techniques as a first aid for hyperventilation. There are different breathing methods to choose from and using a paper bag may also help. It’s also important to know when to contact emergency services which is 000 in Australia. Hyperventilation makes you feel light-headed and different factors cause it. Practising calming techniques may help in the development of a more relaxed breathing habit. A doctor may also provide additional advice on how to prevent or manage it.

What is the First Aid for Hyperventilation?

MyHealth Alberta recommends the following first aid steps in case of hyperventilation.

For hyperventilation, MyHealth Alberta advises: 1. Stay calm. 2. Breathe slowly through nose. 3. Hold breath briefly. 4. Breathe out slowly. 5. Repeat as needed.

Apply a Breathing Technique

The application of one of the following breathing methods may help.

  • Breathing through your lips, as if you are whistling
  • Pinching one nostril and breathing through your nose
  • Slow your breathing to 1 breath every 5 seconds
  • Belly breathing by placing one hand on the belly and the other hand on your chest, breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your pursed lips

The goal of these techniques is to control your breathing, but if these don’t work, you may try using a paper bag.

Use a Paper Bag

Take 6 to 12 natural breaths with a small paper bag held over your mouth and nose. Remove it, then take another set of natural breaths in the open air. Try belly breathing afterwards and switch between the two techniques until the hyperventilation stops.

This first-aid method is not ideal for those with heart or lung problems. Remember to also avoid using it when rapid breathing occurs at high altitudes as it is a normal response.

Contact Emergency Services

Call 000 for an ambulance if you are alone while suffering from hyperventilation, someone loses consciousness due to it, and any time you think someone needs emergency care.

What is Hyperventilation?

According to Healthline, a network of healthcare professionals, hyperventilation is rapid breathing that causes an imbalance between inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. Its effect is a reduction of carbon dioxide in the body.

Healthline says hyperventilation is fast breathing, upsetting oxygen and carbon dioxide balance, lowering carbon dioxide in the body.

What Causes Hyperventilation?

Anxiety, panic, nervousness, or stress are the common causes of hyperventilation aside from the following factors.

  • Bleeding
  • Stimulants usage
  • Drug overdose
  • Severe pain
  • Pregnancy
  • Lung infection and/or diseases
  • Heart conditions
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis 
  • Head injuries
  • Travelling to elevations over 6,000 feet

First aid training at Village Church, 122 Johnston St, Annandale teaches how to immediately respond to most of these conditions. But, it may be a different story if hyperventilation syndrome causes it. 

What is Hyperventilation Syndrome?

MSD Manual, a US-based reference for physicians and pharmacists, describes hyperventilation syndrome as anxiety-related. Its symptoms include chest pain, stiffness, and severe cases are severe that they liken to suffocation.

Because of the symptoms, people confuse it with a panic disorder, but they are not alike. 

Basic testing for diagnosis are pulse oximetry, chest x-ray, and ECG. Treatments include supportive counselling, psychiatric support, and psychological therapy.

MSD Manual: Hyperventilation syndrome, anxiety-related, causes chest pain, stiffness, and severe suffocation-like symptoms.

Who is Prone to Hyperventilation Syndrome?

An article in Science Direct, a website of high-quality journals, reveals the following data regarding hyperventilation syndrome.

  • Young women from 15 to 30 years old are susceptible
  • Preadolescents and elderly patients are less prone

The same article by Jonathan H Pincus also states that 7 of his 30 patients with hyperventilation syndrome had organic diseases such as arthritis, hypotension, endometriosis, and others.

When to Seek Treatment for Hyperventilation?

While breathing techniques may help hyperventilation, it’s also important to see a doctor if it’s recurring. Additional symptoms may also indicate a more serious condition.

  • Deep and rapid breathing at first
  • Worsening hyperventilation even after self-care
  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Bleeding
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Tense
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Frequent sighing or yawning
  • Lightheadedness
  • Vertigo
  • Numbness in certain parts of the body
  • Chest tightness

The above symptoms may indicate hyperventilation syndrome or other health issues.

What are the Treatments for Hyperventilation?

Aside from using a breathing method, a doctor may also recommend the following.

  • Stress reduction with the guidance of a psychologist
  • Acupuncture as its been found to help in hyperventilation syndrome
  • Medications for hyperventilating

A healthcare professional may also find treatments for any underlying health issue that causes hyperventilation.

How to Prevent Hyperventilation?

Doing the following may help prevent or manage an episode.

  • Meditation
  • Practicing breathing techniques
  • Performing mind and body exercises such as tai chi, yoga, or qigong
  • Regular exercise

A doctor may also provide additional advice on how to avoid it from happening again.


Applying a breathing technique, using a paper bag, and contacting emergency services are the first aid for hyperventilation. It’s a rapid breathing that occurs due to different factors such as anxiety, panic, nervousness, and underlying health issues. While first aid may help, it’s important to seek treatment if it’s recurring and comes with additional symptoms. On the other hand, meditation, practicing breathing techniques, and doing exercises may help prevent it or manage an episode.



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