Is It Possible to Breathe Too Much

by | Jul 2, 2024 | Health and Medical

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Often, in times of crisis, someone will say to “take a deep breath,” and often states of exhilaration are described in terms of being “unable to catch one’s breath.” The need to inhale seems to be preferred in our conscious deliberations on the natural act of oxygen exchange.

Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that we know intellectually that oxygen is carried by the blood to every cell in one’s body, and that each cell processes it in order to constitute the tissues, organs, and systems that we need in order to continue life. The basic idea is oxygen in, carbon dioxide out – and the more of the former we can get the better.

This is not necessarily the case, however. It is possible to breathe too much, or hyperventilate, and we may not even know when we are doing it! If we do breathe in too much, it can show up in a variety of symptoms – from asthma and adenoids to sleep apnea and migraine headaches. People who suffer from such conditions try all kinds of various methods to address the symptoms, but are not aware that hyperventilation treatment may be all they need.

When we inhale oxygen, we do exhale carbon dioxide, but not all of it. Some of it remains within the cells of our tissues in order to regulate the oxygen PH levels. This is called the “Bohr effect.” When we breathe too much, or hyperventilate, the levels of carbon dioxide in our cells are thrown off by an influx of oxygen, which makes it more difficult for the oxygen that is in our hemoglobin to be appropriately processed and used by our cells.

The situation deteriorates from there so that we cannot use the oxygen we have appropriately, but the body tries to compensate by taking in even more, which makes the situation even worse. Various pathologies result.

An appropriate hyperventilation treatment would embody learning specific methods for breathing that allows us to take in just enough oxygen to sustain homeostasis and normalized breathing, all of our organs and systems using the right amount of oxygen with the right levels of carbon dioxide regulating use.  Learning to breathe more slowly is a hyperventilation treatment that works for many people to alleviate symptoms such as asthma or adenoids.

Learning to breathe more easily is a hyperventilation treatment that must be taught as a discipline and not something we can usually just start doing on our own. It’s important to connect with a breathing normalization specialist who has experience in teaching relaxation and breathing techniques in order to normalize breathing, as well as to continue to consult with one’s doctor regarding any serious pathological symptoms and what might constitute the optimal treatment of them.