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The Collaborative International Dictionary

hyperventilation \hyperventilation\ n.

  1. The act or process of hyperventilating; breathing rapidly and deeply.

  2. (Med.) A condition in which alveolar carbon dioxide concentration is markedly lower than normal, usually due to breathing rapidly and deeply.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1907, from hyper- + ventilation. Earlier as a type of treatment for lung diseases.


n. (context medicine English) the state of breathing faster or deeper than necessary


n. an increased depth and rate of breathing greater than demanded by the body needs; can cause dizziness and tingling of the fingers and toes and chest pain if continued


Hyperventilation occurs when the rate and quantity of alveolar ventilation of carbon dioxide exceeds the body's production of carbon dioxide. Hyperventilation can be voluntary or involuntary.

When alveolar ventilation is excessive, more carbon dioxide will be removed from the blood stream than the body can produce. This causes the concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood stream to fall and produces a state known as hypocapnia. The body normally attempts to compensate for this metabolically. If excess ventilation cannot be compensated metabolically, it will lead to a rise in blood pH. This rise in blood pH is known as respiratory alkalosis. When hyperventilation leads to respiratory alkalosis, it may cause a number of physical symptoms: dizziness, tingling in the lips, hands or feet, headache, weakness, fainting and seizures. In extreme cases it can cause carpopedal spasms (flapping and contraction of the hands and feet).

Usage examples of "hyperventilation".

Hyperventilation: anxiety causes some people to hyperventilate, which, in turn, leads perhaps to too much carbon dioxide, dizziness and panic.

Holding her breath so that her terrified hyperventilation would not betray her, Bellis looked around the corner.

The intracranial pressures were holding steady, with the help of intravenous Mannitol and Lasix, as well as forced hyperventilation.