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Hyperventilation

Hyperventilation is excessive breathing, normally caused by extreme anxiety, and can happen at the same time as a panic attack.

When someone is hyperventilating they breathe unnaturally fast or deep. This makes the blood lose more carbon dioxide than usual, which can make them feel weak and dizzy. As they begin to breathe normally again, they should feel better.

It is very rare for children to suffer from hyperventilation, so if you think a child is hyperventilating you should try looking for other reasons why they could be showing these symptoms.

Watch our video - hyperventilation

What to look for - hyperventilation

These are the six key things to look for:

  1. 1. Unnaturally fast deep breathing
  2. 2. Attention-seeking behaviour or anxiety
  3. 3. Dizziness
  4. 4. Feeling faint
  5. 5. Trembling or tingling in the hands
  6. 6. Muscle cramps in the hands and feet

What you need to do - hyperventilation

Speak to them firmly, but be kind and reassuring.

Take them somewhere that’s quiet, as this can help them control their breathing again. If you can’t do this, ask any bystanders to leave or turn away.

Encourage the casualty to see their doctor about how they can learn to prevent and control hyperventilation in the future.

If you are unsure of their symptoms or if they are not improving, call 999 or 112 for medical help.

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