Sunday, 23 June 2013 21:47

How To Help Someone Who Is Hyperventilating

An imbalance between the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen within the blood can occur when a person's breathing rate dramatically increases. This process is known as hyperventilation, whereby a casualty will exhibit a whole range of symptoms. Common causes include excessive levels of stress, panic, fear and tension. Some basic first aid knowledge can go a long way in helping the sufferer, which can often prove to be a very stressful event. When someone
hyperventilates they suffer with a general decrease with the amount of carbon dioxide within the blood. This subsequently disrupts the flow of oxygen around the body, causing the casualty to experience symptoms such as a tightening chest, pains in the feet & hands, and heightened levels of fear. It is rarely life threatening, but long term sufferers should seek the attention of their local doctors, who can often prescribe a treatment protocol.

Any first aider who is trying to help someone hyperventilating first of all needs to be able to spot the symptoms of the condition. You may initially find the casualty in an extremely distressed state, with heightened levels of fear. This usually goes side by side with an increased breathing rate, which would be far more breaths per minute than the norm. The casualty may feel muscle cramps, and could feel dizzy; therefore they could even have fainted. These are the tell-tale symptoms of someone having a panic attack, and the next stage will be to treat them.

The first stage of treatment is to sit the casualty down and make them comfortable. Although not the cure a seated casualty is in a far more relaxed state than one who is standing, or even walking around. The casualty should then be encouraged to slow down the amount of breaths that they take in a minute. This is not easy; therefore the first aider can assist by slowly counting whilst they breathe. Long slow breaths will promote the correct balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen, which will in turn improve the casualty's appearance.

If these steps have not worked then a paper bag can be used as a last resort. The idea would be to encourage the casualty to inhale and exhale from a paper bag. This encourages them to rebreathe their own expired air, which should increase the levels of carbon dioxide within the blood. This method should always be the last resort, as it can cause a negative reaction in some casualty's.

All of the above should have a very positive effect when treating someone who is suffering from hyperventilation. However an ambulance should always be called if the symptoms so no sign of abating. It is possible but rare that a casualty could slip unconscious or even suffer a cardiac arrest through their initial  hyperventilation.