Many stressed out young people suffer from hyperventilation which can feel like a heart attack but isn't.
The picture above is of haemoglobin the chemical which carries oxygen from the lungs to the cells of your body that are then used to produce energy (ATP) and sustain life. In the return trip, the waste product carbon dioxide (CO2) is carried from the cells to the lungs for disposal.
Hyperventilation is "an increase in the rate and depth of breathing that exceeds the body's need to remove the waste product CO2" (Marieb & Hoehn, Human Anatomy and Physiology, 5th ed.)
Hyperventilation can be described as breathing too fast or overbreathing.
Click button to listen to Hyperventilation and rightclick to download
FAMILY MATTERS: Hope and help for hyperventilaters, Understanding the triggers and overcoming the psychological and physiological symptoms brought on by anxiety by Dr Kraisit Naruekhatpichai
Most of us know and may experience some familiar symptoms caused by stress, such as stomach ache, headache and insomnia. Some people, however, still don't know that stress can also affect the respiratory system and lead to respiratory disorder. This symptom is called Hyperventilation Syndrome (HVS).
Hyperventilation Syndrome involves breathing too deeply and rapidly followed by a tingling sensation in the hands and feet. Unlike asthma, a recent study concluded that HVS is most likely a psychologically-based disease. People who are around HVS sufferers need to understand that for patients with this condition it is a consequence of behavioural breathlessness rather than a direct physical sickness. Although HVS doesn't result in actual physical obstruction that prevents proper breathing, patients suffering from this condition still feel that it interferes with how they get on with their daily lives
This syndrome (the reason it is called a syndrome is because when HVS occurs it involves a series of symptoms) usually affects young women aged 15-30, especially when they feel uncontrollably frustrated and extremely angry, in which the underlying psycho-mechanism triggers the sufferer to breathe rapidly and deeply. After prolonged, rapid and deep breathing, the lungs release so much carbon dioxide and takes in so much oxygen that eventually it gets to the point where the exchange rate of CO2 and O2 exceeds the metabolic requirements of the body, which can result in haemodynamics and chemical imbalance. Also, calcium in the blood will take in more protein and cause low calcium in the blood; low blood calcium can lead to symptoms such as numbness or tingling in the fingers, toes or around the lips.
Although HVS sounds as though it vitally impacts people's lives, it is reported to be quite common. Most patients and even their loved ones often think of HVS as a life-threatening occurrence, like lung disease, or that it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, and thus need emergency care, which is not always the case. Some families spend loads of money and waste so much time trying to get an unnecessary diagnosis.
The first occurrence of an episode of hyperventilation is typically the most severe because it gets easier for the syndrome to reoccur thereafter. After a patient has experienced several panic attacks, sometimes just one deep breath could bring on shortness of breath, along with all the other symptoms mentioned above. Such patients will feel they need to visit the hospital often, and will usually be diagnosed as having nothing seriously wrong with them. Or worse, they don't receive a proper explanation on their condition from the doctor.
Some patients may become overly concerned about their health, and unfortunately their family members might misunderstand their actions as attention-seeking behaviour.
If, however, sufferers strongly feel that their condition does greatly have an impact on their daily lives and the people around them, they should come forward and speak to a psychologist about the best suitable treatment.
First aid tips and suggestions for HVS patients are as follows:
1. Do not panic. All the symptoms are largely not at all harmful. Try to stay calm and in control of your breathing and try to breathe a bit more slowly.
2. If this does not work, use a paper bag and breath into it slowly. Make sure the paper bag covers your mouth and nose completely - that way, it will bring back the balance of carbon dioxide and calcium in the blood. It will also help get rid of the tingling sensation and numbness in the fingers, toes and area around the lips.
3. Have a full understanding of the condition. When it happens, make sure that people around you know that this is not an act or an attempt at seeking attention. Family and friends should be supportive to patients but at the same time must make sure they are not getting more and more out of control with their anxieties or spoiled.
4. Be mentally stronger. Try to confront the problems of the condition with smart solutions and try to relax. Also, regular exercise can help reduce the chance of hyperventilating as it lowers tension and stress levels.
5. If all else fails, seeing a psychologist might be the best solution. And get the right prescription drug if necessary
Dr Krisit Narukatpichai is CEO and a psychologist at Manarom Hospital.
(Source: Bangkok Post, FAMILYMATTERS, Hope and help for hyperventilaters, Understanding the triggers and overcoming the psychological and physiological symptoms brought on by anxiety, 1/06/2011, Dr Kraisit Naruekhatpichai, link)
respiratory - relating to the process of breathing air in and out ระบบทางเดินหายใจ
respiratory disorder - a disease in the lungs (or affecting the process of breathing air in and out) (See Wikipedia)
lungs - the organs in your chest that fill with air when you breathe ปอด
carbon dioxide - CO2, the chemical waste product created by the body's cells and sent by the blood to the lungs for breathing out (expiration) into the air thus disposing them (See Wikipedia)
haemoglobin - the protein composed that "gives red blood cells their characteristic color; function primarily to transport oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues" also carries 10% of the carbon dioxide from the cells to the lungs as waste disposal (See Wikipedia)
hyperventilation - an increase in the rate and depth of breathing that exceeds the body's need to remove the waste product CO2, breathing too fast or overbreathing, to the person suffering from hyperventilation it seems like they are not getting enough oxygen, but actually fast breathing reduces the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration of the blood to below its normal level because one is expiring more CO2 than is being produced in the body, thereby raising the blood's pH value (making it more alkaline), initiating constriction of the blood vessels which supply the brain and preventing the transport of oxygen and other molecules necessary for the function of the nervous system, can result from a psychological state such as a panic attack or from a physiological condition such as metabolic acidosis, can cause symptoms such as numbness or tingling in the hands, feet and lips, lightheadedness, dizziness, headache, chest pain, slurred speech, nervous laughter, and sometimes fainting (See Wikipedia)
Hyperventilation Syndrome (HVS) - "a respiratory disorder, psychologically or physiologically based, involving breathing too deeply or too rapidly (hyperventilation). HVS may present with chest pain and a tingling sensation in the fingertips and around the mouth (paresthesia) and may accompany a panic attack. People with HVS may feel that they cannot get enough air. In reality, they have about the same oxygenation in the arterial blood (normal values are about 98% for hemoglobin saturation) and too little carbon dioxide in their blood and other tissues. While oxygen is abundant in the bloodstream, HVS reduces effective delivery of that oxygen to vital organs due to low-CO2-induced vasoconstriction and the suppressed Bohr effect. The hyperventilation is self-promulgating as rapid breathing causes carbon dioxide levels to fall below healthy levels, and respiratory alkalosis (high blood pH) develops. This makes the symptoms worse, which causes the person to try breathing even faster, which further exacerbates the problem" (See Wikipedia)
panic - a sudden strong feeling of fear and confusion, which makes you act without thinking carefully ความหวาดวิตก (See glossary)
panic attack - a sudden and short period of intense fear, usually begin abruptly and reaching a peak within 10 minutes and then decreasing over the next several hours; many who experience a panic attack fear they are having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown, symptoms include "increased heart rate (tachycardia), rapid breathing (hyperventilation) which may be perceived as shortness of breath (dyspnea), and sweating (which increases grip and aids heat loss). Because strenuous activity rarely ensues, the hyperventilation leads to a drop in carbon dioxide levels in the lungs and then in the blood. This leads to shifts in blood pH (respiratory alkalosis or hypocapnia), which in turn can lead to many other symptoms, such as tingling or numbness, dizziness, burning and lightheadedness. Moreover, the release of adrenaline during a panic attack causes vasoconstriction resulting in slightly less blood flow to the head which causes dizziness and lightheadedness. A panic attack can cause blood sugar to be drawn away from the brain and towards the major muscles. It is also possible for the person experiencing such an attack to feel as though they are unable to catch their breath, and they begin to take deeper breaths, which also acts to decrease carbon dioxide levels in the blood" (See Wikipedia)
release - to allow a substance to flow out from somewhere ปล่อย
metabolism (noun) - the chemical processes in the body that use food to make energy (ATP)and build new cells (See Wikipedia)
anxiety - a feeling of nervousness or worry
stress - a feeling of worry and tension from difficulties in life; when you worry and think too much about problems
insomnia - not being able to sleep
syndrome - "the association of several clinically recognizable features, signs (observed by a physician), symptoms (reported by the patient), phenomena or characteristics that often occur together, so that the presence of one or more features alerts the physician to the possible presence of the others" (See Wikipedia)
condition - same as "medical condition"
medical condition - a broader tterm than disease and can include injuries to the body (See Wikipedia)
X brought on by Y - disease or medical condition X caused by conditions or event Y
X triggers Y (verb) - conditions or event X causes disease or medical condition Y
trigger (noun) - a cause of a disease or medical condition
psychology (noun) - the scientific study of the human mind and the reasons for human behaviour
psychologist (noun) - a person who works in the area of psychology (practices psychology)
mental - เกี่ยวกับจิตใจ, ซึ่งเกิดขึ้นในใจ
mental disorder - a condition that has a negative effect on a person's beahviour or emotions during daily life (See Wikipedia and Google Definitions)
psychologically-based disease - same as "mental disorder"
mental sickness - same as "mental disorder"
physiology (noun) - the study of how bodies function (See Wikipedia)
physical sickness - involving the body (not just the mind)
symptom - a sign that someone has an illness อาการ
series of symptoms - one symptom happening, then another symptom, and another, and so on ...
diagnosis - when a doctor makes a judgement about what disease a patient has
tingling - a strange feeling under the skin (like stinging) ความรู้สึกเหมือนโดนหนามแหลมแทง
sensation - feeling
a tingling feeling - having a strange stinging-like feeling under your skin
numb (adjective) - having no feeling in part of your body
asthma - a long-term condition in which the lungs become inflammed and breathing difficult โรคหอบหืด (See Wikipedia)
physical obstruction - an object that prevents another object from passing through a passageway (example: a piece of food in the throat became a "physical obstruction" that prevented breathing)
suffering - having physical or mental pain or problems ความทุกข์ทรมาน
underlying - underneath, supporting, forming a foundation or basis for something
prolonged - continuing for a long time ยืดเวลาออกไป
rapid - happening quickly อย่างรวดเร็ว
life-threatening - it might kill you
risk - the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen ความเสี่ยง
cardiovascular - related to the heart and blood vessels
the heart and blood vessels (veins, arteries) in the body and the way that they operate to support life, "an organ system that passes nutrients (such as amino acids, electrolytes and lymph), gases, hormones, blood cells, etc. to and from cells in the body to help fight diseases and help stabilize body temperature and pH to maintain homeostasis" (See Wikipedia)
cardiovascular disease - a disease that affects the heart or blood vessels (See Wikipedia)
emergency - an unexpected situation involving danger in which immediate action is necessary เหตุฉุกเฉิน
emergency care - (See Wikipedia on emergency medical services and emergency medicine)
occurrence - something that happens เหตุการณ์, เหตุการณ์ที่เกิดขึ้น, สิ่งที่เกิดขึ้น
episode - a short period in which someone suffers from an illness badly
severe - very serious and worrying ที่รุนแรง ที่น่าเป็นห่วง
severe episode - suffering from an illness very badly
patient - someone who is receiving medical treatment คนป่วย, คนไข้
treatment - the process of providing medical care การรักษา
aid - help; assistance ความช่วยเหลือ
First Aid - medical help given to a sick or injured person before full medical treatment from a doctor is available (See Wikipedia)
calm - peaceful and quiet; without anxiety ใจเย็น,ไม่ตื่นเต้น, สงบ
stay calm - continue being quiet and peaceful (without worrying)
tension - the feeling of being so nervous or worried that you can't relax ความตึงเครียด
prescription - medicine that a doctor prescribes to cure an illness
X concluded that Y - after studying the situation, explanation Y was given
X a consequence of Y - X happened because Y happened
actual - real; existing in fact จริง
reason - an explanation เหตุผล
frustrated - want something but cannot get it, feeling annoyed and impatient because you are prevented from achieving something ผิดหวัง,ท้อแท้ใจมาก, หงุดหงิดใจ
eventually - at the end of a period of time or at the end of a process ในที่สุด
X sounds as though Y - X seems to have the meaning Y, if X then Y it seems
vital - very important
impact - effect
vitally impacts people's lives - has a big effect on life (big change in life)
quite common - happens often, seen often
typically - usually; normally อย่างเป็นแบบฉบับ
concerned - worried about something มีความกังวล
attention-seeking - when people do things to make other people pay attention to them (look at them, spend time with them)
pay attention to - watch, listen or take notice of someone or something
impact - an effect or influence ผลกระทบ
come forward - doing or saying something (after not doing or saying anything, perhaps because you are shy or think your problem is not important)
suitable - right for a situation or person เหมาะสม
supportive - helping
spoiled - when a child is given every they want (so that they always expect this, which ruins their personality eventually)
confront - try to deal with and solve a difficult problem การรับมือหรือจัดการกับปัญหา
chance - possibility
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