Respiratory alkalosis in anxiety crisis

in StemSocial2 months ago

Anxiety crisis is a serious problem for people, I could say, as described by patients who suffer from it, that they feel they are going to die, that their heart is going to fail them, that their body is paralyzed, among many other symptoms that they come to feel.

Anxiety is a public health problem, as simple as that, which is not recognized as such, and that more and more people suffer from it, but it is not taken care of and in some moments it usually reaches a crisis. This is a maximum level of expression, and should be treated by psychiatrists and/or psychologists.

The maximum expression of this disease is the Anxiety crisis, whose picture is expressed and worsened by what is respiratory alkalosis, and it is this that I would like to explain below.

Pixabay / Author: asundermeier

Previously I described in the following post: Anxiety: a silent enemy in our lives, the main symptoms that people with anxiety present, but when we talk about a crisis we are at another level, the person arrives at the medical emergency in a state that worries family and close friends, who become totally desperate thinking that he/she is going to die.

The picture looks very serious, but physically it is not really so serious, it is more a psychological consequence of a situation that they consider they cannot overcome, and their respiratory and heart rate accelerates. It is very common that it occurs when the person faces situations of great emotional stress.

The big problem is that the person increases the cardiac frequency in an unconscious way (that is to say, he/she breathes up to 30 times or more per minute) which produces an increase of bicarbonate in blood, and we call this medically Respiratory Alkalosis. It is a situation that can be corrected very easily, and I could say that it is not life threatening, at least not to the level reached in an anxiety crisis.

Pixabay / Author: BRRT

I am sure you have seen people who have had a paper bag placed over their face so that they breathe into it, and they basically breathe the same air that they eliminate.

I will recall a very basic but equally important point regarding our breathing, which basically consists of two processes:

  • Inspiration: air enters our body rich in Oxygen.
  • Expiration: air leaves our body rich in CO2.

We will remember this from our biology classes at primary school level. Reading what I have placed you can intuit that if what relieves the symptomatology of "respiratory alkalosis" is to inspire the same air that we eliminate, it means -by logic- that everything is triggered by an exaggerated elimination of CO2, which we compensate with the inhalation of air rich in this element.

Pixabay / Author: sweetlouise

The concentration of bicarbonate in the body decreases and a really complex event occurs at the metabolic level, in which the levels of bicarbonate in the blood decrease, and the blood pH increases.

This elevation of the pH affects the functioning of practically everything in the body, including the muscles. It is for this reason that the person feels that he/she cannot move, because the hands cramp up, as well as the legs, and they enter into despair, thinking that they could even die for this reason.

Obviously anxiety is not the only reason that produces a respiratory alkalosis, there are other causes, but I can say that the main one is this. And in general the response of relatives and patients is the same, and what triggers the problem is usually a strong emotional event.

Pixabay / Author: jarmoluk

Laboratory tests, specifically pH and arterial gas tests, will show that we are not in fact in the presence of a case of respiratory alkalosis.

But as you can see, the solution is quite simple, but I fully understand that for many people to live that, or even for family and friends who are usually present is something very unpleasant to see.

In general I can say that the treatment is very simple, at least the emergency one, just placing an isoosmolar hydration solution (0.9% solution works well), it seems unscientific, but the person breathing in a paper bag helps to quickly relieve the symptomatology, and it is something that can be done at home.

Subsequently, the person will require psychological consultation, who will help him/her to prevent this situation from happening again, by teaching psychological tools and also to determine what is the cause that triggers the crisis.

Links consulted



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it's good to know that my publications attract attention and allow people to comment, very good.

You are welcome @apineda! It is great to see you are doing your first steps! Great work!

I once saw this condition, the presentation is always dramatic and scary to all concerned. However, the solution is not as complex as it appears to be. Its just simple as you rightly itemised. The most important is to detect it and institute the right therapy.

Thanks for the quality and educative post.

Yes, as in everything, the important thing is to keep calm, but I know it is difficult to do so for family members because of all that it means to see a close person suffering such a situation, but it can be easily solved, I understand what is happening. Thank you for commenting.

Anxiety is a really important problem today, and we have techniques to help people suffering from it. That's a major change compared, for instance, with what was happening a few hundreds years ago.

I will tag @ebingo in this comment, as he is a true expert on the topic and you two may be interested in starting interacting. I recommend by the way to check out their blogs. They are very instructive and interesting (as is the present blog, obviously).


All psychological disorders some decades ago were totally stigmatized, and the treatments were inhumane, good thing that is now only part of history (at least the treatments), as for the stigmatization, there is still a lot of that.

Yes, friend ebingo has some very good and interesting content, I've been checking it out. There is very good content in the community, in general.
Thank you very much.

You are welcome. Thanks to you too for answering my comment :)

I've read some of his works before, they are very nice. I will add this post as a Hive story today.

and as far as experts go I'm still learning. Most of my posts are just me showing off the cool stuff I learnt

We are happy that you show off this within us ;)

Thank you!!

You are welcome!

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Thank you for the support.

Anxiety can lead to panic crisis as well, where the person thinks that is going to die! Crazy how our brain and thinking power is so strong...

Yes, but being so, having that power in our mind, the best thing to do is to learn to control it. And take advantage of it. Thanks for the support.


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