Hyperventilation syndrome is heavy breathing brought about by the decrease in carbon dioxide levels in the blood. It occurs when the rate and quantity of alveolar ventilation of carbon dioxide exceeds the body’s production of carbon dioxide making our brains and bodies short of oxygen. Some of the causes can be exercise, fever, shivering, and other disorders which lead to excess production of carbon dioxide than normal.
The body attempts to correct this by breathing more rapidly and deeply. What differentiates hyperventilation from panic disorder is that people with panic disorder often have emotional complaints (for example, fear of death, fear of heights, or closed-in spaces that accompany attacks. However, with hyperventilation, a person will have certain symptoms without these emotional complaints (although the person still may be anxious).
Often times, panic leads to rapid breathing, and breathing rapidly can make you feel panicked making it a vicious cycle. It is a very discomforting disorder that can also leave you feeling breathless. Hyperventilation can be voluntary for example when a swimmer holds their breath or involuntary.
Causes of hyperventilation
Stress and anxiety are known to be the major causes of hyperventilation. Hyperventilation can also occur as a consequence of various medical conditions such as lung diseases, head injury, or stroke, hysteria, heart disease, such as congestive heart failure or heart attack and acute pain.
It can also be brought about by drugs that cause bleeding for example an overdose of aspirin, pregnant ketoacidosis and similar medical conditions, the use of stimulants, lung disease (asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and various lifestyle causes. However, hyperventilation can also be brought about voluntarily, by taking many deep breaths in rapid succession.
Symptoms of hyperventilation vary from one person to another and may include: belching, bloating, chest pain, confusion, dizziness, dry mouth, light-headedness, muscle spasms in the hands and feet, numbness and tingling in the arms or around the mouth, shortness of breath, sleep disturbances and general weakness.
Medical Marijuana and Hyperventilation
With the ongoing research on the therapeutic uses of marijuana, several discoveries have been made including its purpose in helping with hyperventilation. Medical marijuana has been found to treat the underlying causes in some cases of hyperventilation especially anxiety.
Its effect on mood enhancement, anxiety reduction, and mild sedation can be desirable qualities in medications particularly for patients suffering pain and anxiety.
With hyperventilation case, it is more advisable and effective to use medical marijuana in pill or edible form because then the medication does not interfere with breathing.
However, this depends on individual tolerance, individual reaction, dosage of marijuana and type of medical marijuana. It is advisable in the case where a person is using medical marijuana for the first time to treat anxiety and reduce/eliminate attacks with hyperventilation, he or she should be monitored by a physician to ensure that the medicine is working.
Hyperventilation like mentioned above can also be brought about by medications, particularly aspirin. While marijuana is unlikely to combat side effects associated with this medication, it can act as a replacement. Aspirin being a pain killer, as a replacement and with the right dosage, medical marijuana works much better as pain reliever in people who tolerate it.
In cases where hyperventilation is caused by lung disease, medical marijuana acts as an inhaler. As a preventive, it does this by keeping the lungs and breathing passages clear and unobstructed.
Hyperventilation is very uncomfortable, even debilitating. Although the psychological effects of marijuana are merely side effects in the treatment of some symptoms associated with hyperventilation, they contribute directly to the relief of other symptoms. Hence the call on the USA government to legalize marijuana for the good of all.