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  1. peachalulu

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
    Likes Received:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada

    Hyperventaliting - brought on by stress

    Discussion in 'Research' started by peachalulu, Sep 3, 2015.

    Hi all, got a question for anyone who knows something about hyperventilating. My mc is in a dark tunnel with another character - both are crawling on their bellies because it's a real small tunnel. Several rats appear scaring the hell out of the mc ( whose never crawled through a tunnel this small in the dark ), he starts to panic and hyperventilate. What can the other character do with no paper bag available? Would breathing into his mouth work ( I heard it has something to do with carbon monoxide? Or maybe I heard wrong). And if the mc doesn't stop hyperventilating would he pass out and for how long?
  2. wellthatsnice

    wellthatsnice Active Member

    Apr 1, 2015
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    hyperventilation is the result, not the cause of an issue. In this case the cause is panic or anxiety. Hyperventilation is over breathing, so under no circumstances should you breath into the persons mouth. The best way to stop someone from hyperventilation is to calm them down and talk them through breathing at a slower steady pace. have the calm character place their hand on the MC's chest, while they tell the MC to breath in deeply through their nose, letting the air expand the abdomen rather then the chest, and then exhale slowly through the mouth.

    Calming down is the only way to stop hyperventilation. It causes faintness but doesn't not tend to result in a loss of consciousness.
    GingerCoffee and peachalulu like this.
  3. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Mar 3, 2013
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    Ralph's side of the island.
    The reason for breathing into a bag is probably more psychological (ie calming) than anything but technically what happens when you over-ventilate is you blow off more CO2 than normal breathing would. The result is your blood pH becomes higher than it should be (aka alkalosis). Breathing into a bag results in you rebreathing the CO2 you breathed out so it normalizes your blood's CO2 levels. Alkalosis won't kill you if the cause is hyperventilating from anxiety because it's almost impossible to reach a lethal level of alkalosis from hyperventilating.

    I'd have the character calm down via some method and not worry about the bag.
    Sifunkle and peachalulu like this.
  4. Midge23

    Midge23 Member

    Jan 22, 2015
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    Hertfordshire, UK
    As already mentioned, coaching and reassurance is the best method - how effective this would be depends on the character that is with your MC.
    Being in a tunnel makes things harder (your character may not be able to do this) but eye contact, and some physical contact, along with calm words to enable them to regain control over their respiratory rate can be effective.
    Panic on the part of bystanders (or your other character) has the effect of pouring petrol on a fire.
    The paper bag is not done anymore (by medical people anyway), partly due to reasons already mentioned and the danger of misdiagnosis (there are other things that can cause hyperventilation that are quite serious - the paper bag will reduce the amount of oxygen they breath a little).
    But if your character would not be expected to know this, then perhaps they would consider a paper bag.
    Don't confuse Carbon Monixide (CO) with Carbon Dioxide (CO2) - I've seen this done even in the medical world -that little '2' is important!
    peachalulu likes this.
  5. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

    Sep 24, 2009
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    Alabama, USA
    Well I'll be damned. I just watched a CrashCourse video on this subject.

    The host, Hank Green, talks about how this happens, why it happens, though he does talk about the paper bag thing.

    Hope it helps. :D
    peachalulu likes this.
  6. KaTrian

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Mar 17, 2013
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    Profaned Capital
    I'm claustrophobic, so whenever I start to panic and hyperventilate, I have to fix my eyes on one spot and focus on breathing. Long breaths, especially long exhalations have helped me. I've never passed out. The idea of breathing into a bag is actually really unpleasant to me, so it might make things worse. Haven't tried it.

    Panic seems to be contegious, which is why I feel like shit whenever this happens in a car or on an airplane. Medication usually helps (to be taken before the trip), though, but your character doesn't seem to have that option.

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