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Hyperventilation Causes

Causes of hyperventilation are seriously misunderstood by the mainstream medicine. Internet (Wikipedia, etc.) and professional medical sources grossly misrepresent the prevalence of hyperventilation primarily limiting it to such cases as lung injuries, extreme stress, diabetic ketoacidosis, head injuries and stroke. In reality research provides a different view on presence and prevalence of hyperventilation (breathing more air than the medical norm).

Minute ventilation rates (chronic diseases)

Condition Minute
Number of
All references or
click below for abstracts
Normal breathing 6 l/min - Medical textbooks
Healthy Subjects 6-7 l/min >400 Results of 14 studies
COPD 14 (+-2) l/min 12 Palange et al, 2001
COPD 12 (+-2) l/min 10 Sinderby et al, 2001
COPD 14 l/min 3 Stulbarg et al, 2001
Cancer 12 (+-2) l/min 40 Travers et al, 2008
Heart disease 15 (+-4) l/min 22 Dimopoulou et al, 2001
Heart disease 16 (+-2) l/min 11 Johnson et al, 2000
Heart disease 12 (+-3) l/min 132 Fanfulla et al, 1998
Heart disease 15 (+-4) l/min 55 Clark et al, 1997
Heart disease 13 (+-4) l/min 15 Banning et al, 1995
Heart disease 15 (+-4) l/min 88 Clark et al, 1995
Heart disease  14 (+-2) l/min 30 Buller et al, 1990
Heart disease 16 (+-6) l/min 20 Elborn et al, 1990
Pulm hypertension 12 (+-2) l/min 11 D'Alonzo et al, 1987
Asthma 13 (+-2) l/min 16 Chalupa et al, 2004
Asthma 15 l/min 8 Johnson et al, 1995
Asthma 14 (+-6) l/min 39 Bowler et al, 1998
Asthma 13 (+-4) l/min 17 Kassabian et al, 1982
Asthma 12 l/min 101 McFadden, Lyons, 1968
Cystic fibrosis 15 L/min 15 Fauroux et al, 2006
Cystic fibrosis 10 L/min 11 Browning et al, 1990
Cystic fibrosis* 10 L/min 10 Ward et al, 1999
CF and diabetes* 10 L/min 7 Ward et al, 1999
Cystic fibrosis 16 L/min 7 Dodd et al, 2006
Cystic fibrosis 18 L/min 9 McKone et al, 2005
Cystic fibrosis* 13 (+-2) l/min 10 Bell et al, 1996
Cystic fibrosis 11-14 l/min 6 Tepper et al, 1983
Diabetes 12-17 l/min 26 Bottini et al, 2003
Diabetes 15 (+-2) l/min 45 Tantucci et al, 2001
Diabetes 12 (+-2) l/min 8 Mancini et al, 1999
Diabetes 10-20 l/min 28 Tantucci et al, 1997
Diabetes 13 (+-2) l/min 20 Tantucci et al, 1996
Sleep apnea 15 (+-3) l/min 20 Radwan et al, 2001
Liver cirrhosis 11-18 l/min 24 Epstein et al, 1998
Hyperthyroidism 15 (+-1) l/min 42 Kahaly, 1998

Dozens more medical studies prove the same fact: not only people with chronic disease, but nearly all so called "normal subjects" breathe about 12 L/min (double the medical norm) - see the graph with historical changes in breathing below.

Hyperventilation causes that is present in over 90% of normals

Sick people with mouth breathing, supine sleep, and slouching (hyperventilation causes)Since over 90% of the modern population have chronic hyperventilation hidden in the modern lifestyle. The aspects of the modern lifestyle that represent causes of hyperventilation are: supine sleep, mouth breathing, exercise with mouth respiration, laziness, overeating, oversleeping, overheating, slouching, addictions, and many other "innovations" that intensify basal breathing (or breathing at rest) and decrease body-oxygen content.

Russian medical doctors practicing the Buteyko breathing technique have investigated the causes of hyperventilation for more than 4 decades. They suggested that the main cause of hyperventilation is lack of physical exercise with nose breathing. (Note that nasal breathing during physical activity was very common some 80-100 years ago and before that even among competing athletes.)

Good young medical doctors smiling The search for hyperventilation causes is easy if we consider medical studies related to historical changes in breathing rates (minute ventilation) in normal subjects during the last 80 years.

Only 70-80 years ago, as this graph (based on 24 medical studies) testifies, breathing of ordinary people (so called "normal subjects") was very different from breathing of modern people. Modern people breathe about 2-3 times more air. Modern people also breathe about twice more than the medical norm for breathing. (Click on the graph to see and read all 24 references.)

Main hyperventilation causes

Modern civilization has brought about some negative changes affecting our breathing and health, which cause hyperventilation in modern populations. Among main causes of hyperventilation are abnormal changes in our lifestyle in the areas of physical exercise, diet, sleep, rest and relaxation, thermoregulation, talking, and many others. These causes of hyperventilation are considered on separate pages:
Sick people with obesity, mouth breathing, and stress (hyperventilation causes) * Lack of Earthing or electrical connection with Earth that causes shortage of electrons leading to abnormal inflammatory response, ineffective nerve and muscle function and hyperventilation
* Sedentary lifestyle - Sedentary lifestyle causes reduced brain and body oxygen levels. This leads to poor physical fitness and reduced desire to exercise or even move around
* Mouth breathing - Mouth breathing was a socially unacceptable habit and its CO2- and nitric oxide-related effects affect all cells and organs of the human body
* Sleep factors - Our sleep conditions drastically deteriorated due to worsened air quality, introduction of soft beds, warm blankets, sleeping on one's back and mouth breathing during sleep
* Psychological stress - While people in the past had the same magnitude and amount of stress, modern people, due to chronic hyperventilation, have reduced abilities to face their life challenges
* Overeating - While food was scarce in the past, current abundance of junk food, modern advertisement techniques, and social overeating cause devastating effects on breathing causing chronic hyperventilation
* Overheating - High temperatures indoors, excessive clothing, wearing warm clothes indoors, overheating of children are among the causes of hyperventilation
* Lack of nutrients - Food and meals were simpler and more natural before the advance of modern agricultural (-cultural?) methods, while junk food is one of the causes of hyperventilation
* Toxins and pollution - These days they can come from air, food, and water
* Stop slouching - Old movies and photos show that straight spine (for diaphragmatic breathing and normal blood oxygenation - 98%) was the norm 1-2 centuries ago. Appearance of sofas, couches, armchairs, and modern chairs with negative incline (knees are higher than buttocks) causes slouching and leads to chest breathing promoting hyperventilation
* Talkativeness - People used to be less talkative some decades ago, while modern people are very eager to "express" themselves
* Singing - Why do singers die early? - Overbreathing reduces their body O2 and leads to possible addictions, health problems.
* Swaddling babies: when and why - Swaddling was one of the ancient wise traditions that has been lost for decades, but, thanks for recent medical research and trials, it is again encouraged by official mainstream medicine
* Other factors.

All these factors leading to hyperventilation are discussed in more detail on web pages of this Section. Note that these are the most common causes of abnormal breathing. In addition, people often have many other, more personal factors that can intensify their breathing. They are considered in Learning Section of this website, where one can find out more complete practical instructions related to healthy and risk lifestyle factors and related topics.

This YouTube video (there are several others) considers some causes of hyperventilation.

Hyperventilation causes are individual and can vary over time for the same person. For example, a healthy athletic young man, after graduation, may become less active physically. His breathing gets heavier and the morning CP drops to about 20 s. After some years he starts to sleep on his back.  ... Read more ....

People in the past. Do old movies and films show that people's breathing pattern in the past was different? 1. People kept their mouths shut. 2. People spent hours while reading, speaking, and working in the correct posture... Read more ...

How is it possible that a human being, one of the smartest species on Earth, can kill himself, and over 90% people die this way, by overbreathing? Is nature so silly to create us this way? In order to answer these questions we need to consider changes in air composition on Earth ...

Since primitive air had very little O2, our evolutionary predecessors could get more oxygen in tissues only by breathing more. Could it be so that this was the reason why hyperventilation became the main reflex or drive of the human organism? ...

Prevalence, symptoms and treatment of hyperventilation

Prevalence of hyperventilation is very high. More than 90% of the sick and normal subjects breathe over 10 L/min, while the medical norm is only 6 L/min. Healthy people, however, have only about 6-7 L/min ... Read more:

Prevalence of hyperventilation

Common symptoms of hyperventilation are: anxiety, bronchospasm, constipation, coughing, muscle cramps, nasal congestion, sighing, shortness of breath, angina pain, ... Read more:

Symptoms of hyperventilation

Successful treatment of hyperventilation is based on those breathing exercises that reduce minute ventilation at rest and increase alveolar CO2 levels. Correction of lifestyle risk factors is necessary too. More info: 

 Treatment of hyperventilation

Based on my work with hundreds of breathing students, I discovered the combined method that allows to address the main causes of hyperventilation and restore normal breathing with least amount of efforts. The general idea of this approach is provided below as your bonus content.

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  1. What Causes Hyperventilation? (From
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