First aid tips – treating hyperventilation

To ensure that you are fully prepared for any medical emergency, whether it happens at home, at work or out in public, it is a good idea to take a first aid training course. However, there are some first aid basics it can be useful to know even if you haven’t had first aid training, such as how to recognise and treat hyperventilation, for example.

Spotting the signs of hyperventilation

Hyperventilation basically means excessive breathing, usually following acute anxiety or emotional/psychological shock. It may also be accompanied, or develop into a panic attack. You can spot hyperventilation by looking for the following symptoms:

• Unusually fast breathing
• Trembling
• Tingling in the hands and cramps in hands and feet
• Faintness and dizziness

Treating hyperventilation

Your main aim when treating a person who is hyperventilating is to calm them down and provide reassurance. Speak firmly but reassuringly to the person and escort them somewhere quiet and calm, away from other people. If you have no success calming the person down, or symptoms seem to be worsening, you will need to call the emergency services. After the incident, you may also want to recommend to the person that they see their GP about preventing panic attacks in the future.

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