Physical First Aid
For physical recovery, there are several techniques to raise the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the blood:
1. Pursed-Lip Breathing
Here’s how to do it:
- As the name suggests, the patient must purse their lips, as if they are whistling, and breathe at a pace as controlled as possible.
- Pinching one nostril and breathing through the nose also work the same way if the air intake is limited.
- If possible, controlling or slowing down breathing to one breath every five seconds works. A common technique of doing this is belly breathing.
2. Belly Breathing
Belly breathing can be done standing up, but it is better to do it lying down with your knees bent. When belly breathing:
- Place one hand right below your ribs and another on your chest.
- Inhale deeply through your nose and fill your lungs fully. Pay attention to your belly pushing your hand forward, but try and keep your chest level.
- Exhale through pursed lips and use your hand to gently push all the air out as you breathe out slowly.
- Repeat this 3 to 10 times or as many times as needed to slow down breathing.
3. Paper Bag Technique
There’s one classic and timeless solution to hyperventilation: paper bags. It’s important to take caution with this method as it can also cause oxygen levels in the body to go down.
- Take 6 to 12 breaths at an easy, natural pace.
- Hold a small paper bag over your mouth and nose as you breathe.
- This is also effective when done before belly breathing or alternating between the two until the rate of breathing is sufficiently slowed.
Keep in mind that this method must not be used if you have heart or lung problems. Using this in high altitudes could make the air volume lower than expected, so that should not be done either. Plastic bags are not suitable substitutes to paper bags since they restrict air exchange. If necessary, make sure to remove the plastic bag from your mouth and nose in between breaths.
When Should I Go to the Doctor?
If it is your first time experiencing hyperventilation or rapid breathing and you are not diagnosed with anything that may cause it, this is considered a medical emergency. You must head to hospital or seek medical attention as soon as possible. The same goes for when you are experiencing pain, suffering from a fever, or are profusely bleeding.
If home remedies like belly breathing make the hyperventilation worse instead of better, it is also necessary that you go to the hospital. In general, unrelated symptoms or unknown causes need medical attention.
Hyperventilation is caused by panic but this does not mean that when the situation calls for it, we also respond with panic. This is why learning hyperventilation first aid is beneficial. As long as we know what to do and how to do it, we can help ourselves and the people around us to recover quickly.
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