Breathing pattern disorder
A breathing pattern disorder is defined as hyperventilation or over-breathing that does not occur as a result of underlying pathology. Over-breathing is taken by the nervous system as a sign that the body is under stress, and causes the sympathetic nervous system to become engaged (this is true even if the original cause of the over-breathing was stress, and if that stress has subsided).
The effects of a breathing pattern disorder can have wide-ranging effects as attested to in this article by Leon Chaitow. The underlying cause of these effects is often undiagnosed.
Possible symptoms of breathing pattern disorder (Fritz, Grosenbach, 2004)
|Cardiovascular system|| Increased blood pressure (Chaitow, 2006)
Altered heart rhythm possibly including palpitations and tachycardia.
Chest pain & angina
Altered functioning of the venous system possibly including
|Respiratory system|| Breathing difficulties including post-exercise shortness of breath, asthma, and tightness of the chest
Excessive sighing, yawning and sniffing
|Gastrointestinal system|| Difficulty in swallowing
Dry mouth and throat
Digestive difficulties including impaired digestion (Chaitow, 2006), abdominal discomfort, bloating, flatulence, belching, nausea, reflux, heartburn, hiatal hernia
|Muscular system|| Cramps
Muscle pains (especially occipital, neck, shoulders, between scapulae)
Muscle tremors, twitching, weakness, stiffness or tetany
Myofascial trigger points (Chaitow, 2006)
Overuse of the accessory muscles of breathing (Forman, 2007)
|Nervous system|| Sympathetic arousal (Chaitow, 2006)
Dizziness, instability, and sensation of faintness or giddiness
Visual disturbances such as blurred or tunnel vision, intolerance of light
Headache (often migraine)
Paresthesia – commonly of hands, feet or face sometimes scalp or whole body
|Psychological effects|| Tension and anxiety
Depersonalisation, feeling “out of body”, hallucinations
Panic disorders, phobias
Fatigue and disturbed sleep
Impaired mental function including concentration, memory and clarity of thought.
|Cerebrovascular effects|| Cerebrovascular constriction is a common response to breathing pattern disorder and can reduce oxygen available to the brain by about 1/2
Breath retraining : Helping your clients to correct their breathing pattern