ZocdocAnswersHow to treat hyperventilation if patient can't slow breath?

Question

How to treat hyperventilation if patient can't slow breath?

Patient has been breathing rapidly for several days due to severe anxiety and psychological problems. Complains of dizziness and headache and can't calm down or slow breaths. Besides psychiatric care to calm down, is there any way to home treat potential carbon dioxide deficiency, alkalosis, hypoxia, or hypocalcemia in the blood?

Answer

The absolute best way to treat this problem is to treat the anxiety itself and its subsequent panic attacks as these are the heart of the reason why people with panic attacks get dizziness and headaches from hyperventilation. I recommend that you see a psychiatrist about this problem. There are no reliable treatments for the consequences of hyperventilation, although I always recommend that patients breathe in and out of the bag when they're having a panic attack especially if they are susceptible to getting dizzy during one. The alkalosis that subsequently results from hyperventilation is temporary and resolves within moments after the panic attack is over. Thus, no treatment is needed per se. The best treatment for anxiety and panic attacks is a group of medications called the serotonin receptor reuptake inhibitors. These are also known as SSRIs. The most commonly prescribed ones include the medication Celexa also known as citalopram, sertraline also known as Zoloft, and also sometimes Paxil. These medications are extremely effective in reducing anxiety and preventing panic attacks as long they are taken as prescribed at the right dose. If they are ineffective or additional medications are needed, sometimes people benefit from the addition of a benzodiazepine such as Ativan order lorazepam. Again, please see a psychiatrist for this problem. Good luck.

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