Hyperventilation occurs when a person breathes too deep and much faster than normal. It is often the result of fear or anxiety and is more likely to occur in people who are nervous or tense.

People who are hyperventilating say they feel as though they are not getting enough air when they breathe. They will also complain of tingling and numbness to the arms, hands and legs. A person’s hands and fingers may begin to feel cramped. Hyperventilating patients will NOT have blue lips or skin.


  • Victim is breathing faster than normal
  • Victim states that extremities feel numb and tingly
  • Victim may feel anxious, fearful or tense.


  • Try to calm the victim
  • Reassure the victim
  • Keep the victim in a sitting position.
  • Watch for other signs of respiratory distress
  • It is not recommended that the victim breathe into a paper bag

Hyperventilation can be a sign of a more complicated emergency. If normal breathing does not improve or return in a few minutes, then call 911.