Hyperventilation Often Causes Asthma. Reduce Both Now.

Hyperventilation Often Causes Asthma. Reduce Both Now.


Hyperventilation Often Causes Asthma. Reduce Both Now.

Are Hyperventilation and Asthma the same? Read on to find out the connection between hyperventilation and asthma.

Hyperventilation Often Causes Asthma

Hyperventilation, commonly known as panic attacks, is actually known as hyperventilation syndrome (HVS). HVS, which is usually characterized by panic attacks but has a deeper meaning, and asthma have some symptoms in common. Research has established a link between hyperventilation and asthma. It is sufficient to say that having one of the two ups the risk of having the other.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a condition in which a patient's airways are inflamed, become narrow, or swell, leading to extra mucus formation, making it even more challenging to breathe. Asthma could be a minor ailment, or it could be acute, interfering with daily activities. In some cases, it might be a life-threatening attack. The most common asthma symptoms would be difficulty in breathing, chest pain, cough, and wheezing. The symptoms may sometimes flare-up.

Components of Asthma

Physiologically, acute asthma has two components:

  • An early, acute bronchospastic aspect marked by smooth muscle bronchoconstriction and

  • A later inflammatory component results in airway swelling and edema.

Exposure to an allergen or trigger causes a characteristic form of airway inflammation in susceptible individuals. This is exemplified by mast cell degranulation, the release of inflammatory mediators, infiltration by eosinophils, and activated T lymphocytes. 

Multiple inflammatory mediators may be involved, including interleukin (IL)–3, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-13, leukotrienes, and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factors (GM-CSFs). These, in turn, incite the involvement of mast cells, neutrophils, and eosinophils. Here's a diagram to understand asthma and its effect on our cells.

Pathogenesis of Asthma

Figure depicting antigen presentation by the dendritic cell, with the lymphocyte and cytokine response leading to airway inflammation and asthma symptoms.
Image Source: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2129484-overview#a5

What is Hyperventilation?

To the layperson, hyperventilation is associated with ''panting'' and is connected with ''panic attacks. So, in a clinical setting, it often comes as a surprise to patients to find that their unobtrusive and habitual breathing patterns are hyperventilating and are responsible for a wide range of physiological and psychological disorders.

As said earlier, panic attacks have a significantly less physiological or genetic footprint. Hyperventilation could also be termed as overbreathing. It could have causes that are not due to any underlying disease. When you breathe, you inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Excessive breathing may lead to low carbon dioxide levels in the blood, which causes many of the symptoms you may feel if you hyperventilate. The causes could range from exercise to nausea, panic, or anxiety.

What is Hyperventilation?

Psychological factors such as fear, panic, anxiety, stress, and depression could exacerbate bronchoconstriction and cause hyperventilation. In the early stages of acute asthma, hyperventilation may result in respiratory alkalosis. It is a condition that can dangerously predispose the body's smooth muscular tubes (arteries, the lining of the lungs, etc.) to spasm, increasing blood pressure, restricting breathing by an ''asthma'' type attack, and by coronary artery spasm, increasing the likelihood of a heart attack.

Hyperventilation that leads to asthma attacks shows that obstructed lung units (slow compartment) are less numerous than unobstructed lung units (fast compartment). The carbon dioxide removal from the lungs happens via the fast compartment when a person is hyperventilating. 

However, as asthma progresses and more lung units are obstructed, an increase in the slow compartments occurs, resulting in a decreased ability for carbon dioxide removal and eventually causing hypercarbia ( increased CO2 in the bloodstream)

The following excerpt from a research paper becomes particularly relevant here.

Asthma and Its Connection with Hyperventilation Have Now Been Clinically Proven!

A 20-year study involving almost 600 adults in Switzerland revealed a significant connection between these two conditions. Those with asthma faced a 4.5-fold increased risk of developing panic disorder, while persons with panic disorder were six times more likely to develop asthma. This research study was published in June 2005 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

My impression is that people with asthma shouldn't be prescribed drugs and steroids for long-term usage. Many adults have similar issues, and I believe that even those benefiting from inhalers in the short term should develop their natural breathing and get off the inhalers as soon as possible. 

The side effects of pharmaceuticals are nothing but illnesses disguised as mild and benign reactions to the so-called harmless drugs. If you were not sick and had the prescription drug side effect, it would have been called an illness!

Recommended Reading:

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