Some research findings
There are several methods available to physicians to diagnose hyperventilation. Possible options are blood tests, urine tests, Electromyography (EMG), electroencephalography (EEG), electrocardiography (ECG) and capnographic research.
What do we see in the various lab tests?
- The plasma bicarbonate level in chronically hyperventilating patients is almost always below the lowest normal value. This phenomenon was already described by Lewis in 1916 on the basis of his study of patients suffering from what was then called ‘the effort syndrome’, which is currently assumed to be identical to the phenomenon of chronic hyperventilation.
- The pCO2 (partial pressure of carbon dioxide) level of the blood is usually low to sub-normal.
- The urine is often neutral or alkaline.
- Electromyography (EMG) usually brings duplet, triplet or multiplet characteristics of latent tetany (continuous involuntary spasm of a muscle) to light.
- Electroencephalography (EEG) often shows us excess in sluggish activity; commonly over the temporal areas of the brain, sometimes with irritative characteristics as well. Especially under the influence of hyperventilation provocation, paroxysms of sometimes high voltage show sluggish waves. All in all, such an examination often leads to the pronouncement that migraine and/or epileptic factors must be taken into consideration. The term fundamental function disorder is also heard frequently.
- Electrocardiography (ECG) often shows depression and flattening of the S-T-segment in the afflicted patients, as well as inversion of the T-tops. In combination with a patient’s quick heartbeat and the acutely occurring complaints of worsening hyperventilation, this can lead to admission on a coronary care unit (CCU) of a hospital.
- A capnographic exam shows a noticeable irregularity in the respiratory pattern in many chronically hyperventilating patients and a characteristic sighing. After a hyperventilation provocation, the CO2 levels in the inhaled air of the patient returns to the starting level much slower than in healthier individuals.