Chronic Hidden Hyperventilation – 21st Century Epidemic?



It is estimated that up to 90% of the population in the West are in the habit of over breathing; they suffer from CHHV (Chronic hidden hyperventilation). Because CHHV is not easily recognized, it is rarely diagnosed and even when it is, patients are given little advice or support to deal with the habit. The Buteyko Method appears to be the most effective training system to correct the problem.

  1. Why is it termed hidden? Normal breathing at rest involves breathing about 5-6 litres of air per minute with a respiratory rate of between 8-12 breaths per minute.

a. If a person breathes slightly faster, say 12-16 breaths per minute this will not be easily noticed by any observer but will increase their minute volume by 2-3 litres.

b. If they breathe slightly larger breaths, perhaps 25% larger, this will increase their minute volume by another 2-3 litres but this increase will not be easily observed.

c. If they habitually sigh or yawn this can add another 2-3 litres per minute.

The total effect will be to increase their minute volume to 10 to 15 litres per minute.

  1. Chronic hidden hyperventilation is frequently associated with habitual mouth breathing since it is far easier to over-breathe through the mouth than through the narrower air passages of the nose.
  2. The effects of CHHV is to lower the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the body, to increase the risk of airborne infection as the filtering and immune system of the nose is by-passed, to irritate and inflame airways as dry or cold air is breathed through the mouth and to cause loss of nitric oxide normally produced naturally in the nasal cavities.
  1. The lowered CO2 disturbs the entire physiology of the body:

a. The blood does not release its oxygen to tissue as freely due to the Bohr effect.

b. Smooth muscle wrapped around all hollow organs in the body (airways, arterial blood vessels, bladder, gut etc.) is caused to spasm, restricting circulation, breathing, or digestion.

c. The acid/alkalinity of the body, the pH, is shifted towards alkalinity. This adversely affects every biochemical activity of the body.

Do You Hyperventilate? Check your own breathing HERE

If you have a CP(ControlPause) of less than 20 seconds, here is a simple way to improve your health and fitness in just a few weeks, learn to breathe normally again.

 The health consequences of CHHV because of the above can be many and serious. Conditions invariably associated with CHHV include: asthma, sinusitis, breathlessness, angina, diabetes, hay fever, low energy, gut problems, sleep problems, childhood developmental problems, hypertension, anxiety, CFS, panic attacks, snoring, IBS etc. Improved breathing helps reduce symptoms of these conditions and generally improves wellbeing.

General information :   Asthma information:

St Bridgets  Rye Road  Hawkhurst  Kent TN18 5DA     Freephone: 0800 781 2534

Michael Lingard BSc DO BIBH Buteyko Educator