Caitlin Wilson
Journal of Paramedic Practice, Vol. 10, Iss. 9, 20 Sep 2018, pp 370 - 375

This article provides an overview of hyperventilation syndrome (HVS).
Hyperventilation is to breathe in excess of metabolic requirements; in the
absence of an underlying organic cause, it is defined as HVS. Alternative
terms used in literature are panic or anxiety attack, panic or anxiety disorder,
dysfunctional breathing and breathing pattern disorder. This article explores
HVS signs and symptoms beyond the familiar clinical signposts of tachypnoea,
chest tightness, paraesthesia and anxiety. It will also discuss differential
diagnoses and pre-hospital treatment of HVS, focusing on reassuring patients
and assisting them in establishing a good respiratory pattern. Patients with HVS
use a significant amount of hospital and emergency service resources, ideally
placing paramedics to diagnose and treat HVS in the pre-hospital setting to
avoid unnecessary and costly hospital admissions. Further research is needed
to evaluate the pre-hospital prevalence and diagnostic accuracy of HVS, identify
clear diagnostic criteria and design screening tools.

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