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Are You Hyperventilating?

Discussion in 'Autonomic, Cardiovascular, and Respiratory' started by Cort, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    Dr. Natelson has found that a relatively small proportion of ME/CFS patients are hyperventilating - a process that can cause many of the symptoms of ME/CFS.

    Here's his simple test for hyperventilation:

    Take a breath and hold it: if you can only hold for your breath for 35 seconds or less you may be a chronically hyperventilator. Most people can hold their breath for 45 seconds or more.

    If you feel uncomfortable when you stand you might try breathing into a paper bag; if you feel better then it's probably getting that carbon dioxide back into your system that's doing it; ie you've been hyperventilating.
  2. Michael Dessin

    Michael Dessin Senior Member

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    Yes

    YES!! I had this problem !!! I couldn't hold my breathe 20 seconds. Just tried it again, easily past a minute!

    Mike
  3. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    You dog! ;) I was able to do 40 - not bad for an old CFS patient.
  4. Beady

    Beady

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    Since I first read this, I have been paying attention to my breathing. I discovered that shortness of breath and trouble holding the breath appeared at the same time as I felt restless and tense. I tried breathing into a bag, and to my big surprise I immediately felt completely relaxed.

    I have since been breathing into a bag as soon as I feel it hard to relax when resting or when trying to fall asleep. And it works every time. I can fall asleep much quicker, and if waking up during the night, I just take some breaths into a bag and fall asleep again. For me this is really a wonderful discovery.

    But I wonder what is going on physiologically? How can I change this permanently?
  5. susan

    susan Senior Member

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    Hi Beady,
    A pure oxygenated body is the key to wellness...it is what keeps us alive. When we shallow breathe we have an incorrect balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide and that has many catastrophic results for us as it keeps the body on high alert.
    At the moment this is my pet subject. I never realised that I was hyperventilating until recently. I have completed Buteyko exercises that takes committment....corrects your breathing so you wont have to do the bag thing...in fact I read it is not good to do it for some reason as the air is poor quality.....I stand corrected on that.

    Now I am doing Pranyama breathing. Most CFs people over breathe from the upper chest and that has to be transferred to the diaphragm....very difficult. I bought a kit off the net to teach me the exercises and I had a stop watch to complete them and that kept me anchored plus paying for the DVD....made me determined. I have lowered my heart rate consderably and can cope with stress so much better.


    Check out what Dr Sarah Myhill has to say about it.
    http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/articles.cfm?subject=Breathing problems
  6. Jody

    Jody Senior Member

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    Am I hyperventilating?

    Oh yeah. :D

    Workin' on it though. :)
  7. Beady

    Beady

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    Thanks for your comments Susan. Interesting to read your thoughts around this. The strange thing is that I have been a nose breather my entire life, and I have been doing Pranyama breathing for years Still, it seems like the body is living its own life when getting fatigued.

    I know that dr. De Meirleir is using oxygen concentrator on some of his patients. I have been holding back a bit (because of Cheneys theories), but now I wonder how oxygen therapy would affect hyperventilating?
  8. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    This is exactly what I observed once I started doing the Amygdala Retraining technique. This general process is what convinced me that Ashok Gupta has the right idea when he says that the fear centers our brain are overly activated. He could be wrong; it may not be that the fear centers are overly activated but that we are physiologically over responding to negative events. Whatever! When a little negative event or thought occurs I start holding my breath, my muscles tense up, my thoughts start flying, I get fatigued, etc. This happens all the time! It's like a body/mind lockup.

    I never realized it until I slowed down and took a look. I just pushed through the symptoms as best I could always wondering why I felt like crap!

    There is a study that shows when given a negative event to look at ME/CFS patients bodies quickly go into a stress response mode; healthy controls do not do this.

    How to turn this response down? Gupta may work for some, Lightning Process for others, it's possible to retrain the autonomic nervous system so that breathing naturally becomes deeper and shallower. The entire realm of mind/body exercises probably gets at this. I'm sure there must be ways to get at the process physiologically- I just don't know what they are.

    It takes work - I'm interested in what kit Susan bought?
  9. susan

    susan Senior Member

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    Buteyko said a test for hyperventilation is how many breaths per minute you breathe. If you are over 11 breaths then you hyperventilate. I have been practicing this now for 2 months and still cant hold my breath for up to 35 seconds. Cort you are doing really well. I have found that taping my mouth at night to be very useful as the good work correcting breathing during the day comes undone at night if you dont tape up.
  10. Koan

    Koan Be the change.

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    Hey All,

    I do Prayayama, too. When I began, I wanted to do alternate nasal breathing but totally misunderstood the isntructions. I somehow missed the part about using your fingers and thought you were supposed to train yourself to just breathe through one nostril at a time using your mind, so I did! Of course, you're supposed to use your thumb and finger, which I usually do, but I can still breathe through alternate nostrils using my mind - not completely but about 80% - using intense concentration.

    It's a silly skill but, since I can't play an instrument, it's all I got.

    ETA I can hold my breath pretty comfortably for a minute. Of course, I had to come back and edit that in because I may be able to breathe but I can't play an instrument or think.
  11. Michelle

    Michelle Decennial ME/CFS patient

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    I'm surprised that nobody has pointed out that hyperventiliation can be a symptom of phyisiological processes like shock -- which can be caused by hypovolemia (low blood volume), a problem very common among ME/CFS patients.

    Breathing exercises are always a good thing, but our problems with hyperventilation may not be something we can completely control with them.
  12. Cort

    Cort Phoenix Rising Founder

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    An interesting point! Dr. Natelson, I believe, showed that anxiety was not the cause of the hyperventilation he was finding; it had a physiological origin. If it's due to some dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system (caused by ?) I have heard it's possible to for healthy people retrain the ANS.; how much that applies to ME/CFS is anyone's guess. I think it does - based on my personal experience - at least to some extent
  13. rk1966

    rk1966

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    I realize this post is old, but I had to reply. 3 years ago, as a new nurse I went straight to work in ICU; incredibly rewarding, but INCREDIBLY STRESSFUL!!! I found that I was holding my breath without realizing it, until my brain finally told me that I needed to breathe! Luckily this was only happening while I was replaying the days events over in my head during my lunch break or while in the bathroom (which was rare since I was so busy that I rarely took a lunch or bathroom break). Before I started getting sick from CFS, I don't remember holding my breath when stressed - but then again, the ICU presented a whole new level of stress than what I'd ever dealt with before.

    I grew up in an incredibly abusive environment and think that my brain was in a constant state of "fight-or-flight". I moved 1,500 miles from home the day I graduated high school and although there were many stressors in my adult life, I feel I dealt pretty well with them, considering I was never taught adequate coping skills.

    So, which came first, the chicken or the egg? I believe my CFS was triggered by my inability to adequately deal with the constant life-or-death situations that were constantly playing out in front of me during my 13 hour shifts at work. It didn't help that, as numerous "experienced" nurses pointed out, I seemed to have a "dark cloud" hanging over me when I came to work; I almost always got assigned to the patient's who were the most complex, out-of-the-ordinary, "we've never seen this before" kind of cases.

    Anyway, how ironic, just a couple of hours ago I came across a 2 cd set that I bought several years ago and misplaced (before I started my career as a nurse); it's Dr. Andrew Weil's "Mind Body Tool Kit" that teaches mindfulness, guided imagery and BREATH WORK!!!

    OK, now it's time to pop it in the cd player and learn some new coping skills (or retrain my ANS) :thumbsup:

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