Hyperventilation Syndrome (HVS)

Hyperventilation Syndrome (HVS), or over-breathing, means breathing in and out in excess of your body’s requirements. It is a normal reaction to any stressful situation and usually when the stressful event is over, the body returns to its normal relaxed state. Sometimes as a result of prolonged stress, a continual pattern of over-breathing can occur, whereby the breathing pattern does not return to normal, leading to the development of some distressing symptoms. Symptoms of HVS can include frequent sighing and yawning, feeling breathless even after relatively minor exercise, difficulty co-ordinating breathing and talking and/or eating, breathless when anxious or upset, pins and needles in hands/arms/around mouth, palpitations and many more.

Physiotherapy can help HVS by helping you to retrain your breathing pattern. By adjusting the rate, depth and the way you breathe, the symptoms of HVS can be managed. Physiotherapy can also help by promoting relaxation, providing education about HVS, and teaching you how to recognize triggering factors responsible for your symptoms, as well as teaching breathing exercises to control breathlessness and supporting you to stop smoking if required.

What to expect: A full assessment will be carried out at your first appointment. This will enable the physiotherapist to determine the cause of any problems and where to focus treatment. The assessment will last approximately 45 minutes, and will involve the physiotherapist asking you many questions, completing questionnaires and a physical examination of your breathing. The physiotherapist will also leave you with some useful information as well as some specifically tailored breathing retraining exercises. Follow up appointments will be as frequently as required.