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Breathing Pattern Disorder, Hyperventilation, Overbreathing

 

Breathing Pattern Disorder (BPD) is a combination of individual symptoms which, on their own, may all be attributed to other causes, but collectively, may make up a breathing pattern disorder. These symptoms are all actually due to low levels of CO2 (carbon dioxide), as opposed to the common misconception that the cause is insufficient intake oxygen.

BPD is diagnosed using physical assessment, a validated questionnaire (the Nijmegen) and a machine that measures respiratory CO2 levels (a Capnometer). Symptoms of Breathing Pattern Disorders can cause fatigue, abdominal bloating, brain fog, muscular aches and pains, pins and needles in arms and hands, feeling of anxiety, palpitations, muscular fatigue, and headaches. They can also cause sighing or yawning, gasping for air during speech, a feeling that breathing is unnatural or difficult, breath holding and clenching of the teeth.

Hyperventilation Syndrome (HVS) is a disorder that often presents with chest pain and a tingling sensation of the fingertips (paresthesia) and around the mouth, as well as deep and labored breathing (causing hyperventilation), although chronic but subtle hyperventilation can cause these symptoms too. Hypocapnia is a deficiency of carbon dioxide in the blood, resulting from hyperventilation and eventually leading to alkalosis.

People who over-breathe often complain of symptoms that include

  • Light headedess
  • Head neck and upper body aching/pain
  • Giddiness/Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Numbness
  • Chest pains
  • Dry mouth
  • Clammy hands
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

 

Breathing re-training is usually helpful for people who

  • Feel depressed
  • Feel exhausted
  • Feel tense or achy
  • Have difficulty sleeping
  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Feel agitated or anxious

Breathing Pattern Disorders influence health due to

  • Altered blood pH, creating respiratory alkalosis
  • Increased sympathetic arousal, altered neuronal function (including motor control)
  • Sense of apprehension, anxiety, affecting balance (and possibly panic)
  • Depleted Ca and Mg ions, enhancing sensitization, encouraging spasm, reducing pain thresholds
  • Smooth muscle cell constriction, leading to vasoconstriction (and possibly altering fascial tone)
  • Smooth muscle constriction can also lead to colon spasm and pseudo-angina
  • Reduced oxygen release to cells, tissues, brain (Bohr effect) – encourages ischemia, ‘brain-fog’, fatigue & pain
  • Evolution of myofascial trigger points
  • Biomechanical overuse stresses that compromise core stability and posture, and cause pain


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