Hyperventilation syndrome

Abstract

The hyperventilation syndrome, primary alveolar hyperventilation and respiratory alkalosis accompanied by various signs and symptoms, occurs in about 6–11% of the general patient population. The causes of hyperventilation are: 1) organic and physiologic and, 2) psychogenic (emotional/habit). Hyperventilation syndrome excludes hyperventilation that is compensatory or caused by organic or physiologic factors. Acute or chronic anxiety is usually considered the predominant primary causal factor of the hyperventilation syndrome. The symptoms and signs associated with the hyperventilation syndrome are many and varied and present a composite of the symptoms associated with anxiety and the signs and symptoms caused by the actual physiologic derangements. Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of the hyperventilation syndrome are indistinguishable from those of anxiety (panic attack, anxiety neurosis, etc.). The diagnosis of the hyperventilation syndrome requires a high index of suspicion and a provocation test consisting of voluntary hyperventilation to reproduce the patient’s symptoms. The differential diagnosis includes consideration of those organic, pulmonary, neurologic, cardiac, and gastrointestinal diseases, as well as other psychiatric illnesses, that produce similar symptoms. The treatment involves the four areas of psychotherapy, psychotropic drugs, beta-adrenergic blocking drugs, and behavior therapy.

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Brashear, R.E. Hyperventilation syndrome. Lung 161, 257–273 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02713872

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  • Hyperventilation syndrome