Hyperventilation

"I can't breathe, it feels like something is stuck in my throat!" said the young guy after his bout, fight, or whatever it's called when kids do judo. He clearly was breathing because he just spoke to me. If anything he was over doing it and hyperventilating (breathing to much). Yep, it is possible to overdose on the very stuff that keeps us all alive. Or should I say, it's possible to have too much oxygen in your system which forces down the level of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and this is where the problems start, as its CO2 that tells your brain that you need to take another breath. Confused? Thought so! I'll keep this as simple as I can, I'll even make it a list. 
  • Young lad breathing too fast
  • Mildly aggressive or attention seeking behaviour
  • Tingling in hands and fingers (also in feet but not in this case)
  • Feeling of being strangled
  • Pain in chest
  • Panicking
All classic signs, symptoms, call it what you want, of hyperventilation. So, what do you do about it? OK here's another list...
  • If there is something causing stress, remove it from the equation or take the person away from it, or, as in this case, get bystanders to walk away.
  • Be firm, polite, but firm and reassure them.
  • Get the casualty to... what was it the Prime Minister said? "Calm down Dear!"
  • Lower the oxygen level and raise the CO2. How? I hear you say, well there is always the good old paper bag trick, but I'm a bit more high-tech than that...
This lad was acting like he was going to die if he didn't get drugs, "you must have an inhaler or something!" maybe I did, but I wasn't giving it to him. He wasn't having an asthma attack after all. I got a cylinder of gas, and told him to take deep, slow breaths, "in, hold it, out"  this seemed to do the trick, he held on to the mask like his life depended on it. I was in charge now, so I told him when to breathe this magic stuff in, when to hold it and when to breathe out. He was soon on the mend. The look of panic went from his face and he stopped squeezing my hand like he was trying to rip my fingers off. He told me that the pain in his chest was going and his behaviour settled down. 
So what was this magic gas that did such a fine job of restoring the lads health? Nothing much, no seriously, nothing. I didn't connect the mask to the gas cylinder. It was an oxygen cylinder anyway. He was hyperventilating, so the last thing I wanted to do was give him more oxygen, but he didn't know that. All he was doing was breathing in and out of a mask with a bit of tube stuck on it. But the nice medic made him better with this magic gas. Yeah, I'm nice like that!
Now, after my little lesson, everyone of you will know what to do if you find a mate hyperventilating, so I can relax and go watch telly.


Oh, one last thing, here's a new word for you...
PLACEBO
Go look it up ;o)

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