Medical Specialties: Emergency medicine, Psychiatry, Pulmonology

Clinical Definition

Hyperventilation is an increase in alveolar ventilation. It can lead to hypocapnia if carbon dioxide is removed from the blood in excess of production. Hyperventilation may be caused by physical or emotional stimuli. 

In Our Own Words

Hyperventilation is increased breathing, which may lead to low levels of carbon dioxide in the body. During the breathing cycle, oxygen is inhaled, and carbon dioxide is exhaled. If breathing becomes too fast, carbon dioxide is removed from the body faster than it can be produced.


There are both emotional and physical causes of hyperventilation. Extreme stress, fear or panic can cause fast breathing. Physical conditions, such as pain, bleeding or lung disorders can also lead to hyperventilation. 

Relevant Conditions
Side Effects
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
Share this article
  • John Hopkins Children’s Center. "Hyperventilation." http://www.hopkinschildrens.org. Accessed October 2013
  • University of Maryland Medical Center. "Hyperventilation." http://umm.edu. Accessed October 2013.
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