You breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Excessive breathing creates low levels of carbon dioxide in your blood. This causes many of the symptoms of hyperventilation.
Feeling very anxious or having a panic attack are the usual reasons that you may hyperventilate. But rapid breathing can be a symptom of a disease, such as:
- Heart or lung disorder
Your health care provider will determine the cause of your hyperventilation. Rapid breathing may be a medical emergency you need to get treated, unless you have had this before and your provider has told you that you can treat it on your own.
Often, panic and hyperventilation become a vicious cycle. Panic leads to rapid breathing, and breathing rapidly can make you feel panicked.
If you frequently overbreathe, you may have hyperventilation syndrome that is triggered by emotions of stress, anxiety, depression, or anger. Hyperventilation from panic may be related to a specific fear or phobia, such as a fear of heights, dying, or closed-in spaces (claustrophobia).
If you have hyperventilation syndrome, you might not be aware you are breathing fast. But you will be aware of having many of the other symptoms, including:
- Chest pain
- Dry mouth
- Muscle spasms in the hands and feet
- Numbness and tingling in the arms or around the mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Sleep disturbances