[hyper- + ventilation]
Increased minute volume ventilation, which results in a lowered carbon dioxide (CO2) level (hypocapnia). It is a frequent finding in many disease processes such as asthma, metabolic acidosis, pulmonary embolism, and pulmonary edema, and also in anxiety-induced states.
Treatment is directed at the underlying cause. Immediate therapy for panic attacks consists of coaching the patient to slow down the breathing process to decrease the rate of blowing off CO2. One way to do this is to have the patient breathe through only one nostril, with the mouth closed. Having the patient breathe in and out of a paper bag is discouraged, as it leads to hypoxemia. After the acute phase of the hyperventilation has been managed, the underlying cause of the problem must be determined.
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