Henry Ford Hospital Medical Journal


A review oi the literature on the hyperventilation syndrome reveals a variety of treatment approaches and a virtual absence of controlled studies of this common problem. Attempts to treat the condition by changing the respiratory pattern through mechanical means can be traced back to the first century A.D. The "paper bag method" of treatment has many psychological drawbacks and is often unsuccessful. Several avenues of drug treatment have been explored: acidifiers, minor tranquilizers, antidepressants, and stimulants. Reports of success with insight-oriented intensive psychotherapy are scarce. Some forms of group psychotherapy have been tried with success. The model of the "medical friendship" may be most appropriate, and abreaction as well as verbal ventilation may prevent respiratory hyperventilation at least temporarily. Research is badly needed, utilizing the physiological changes occurring in the hyperventilation syndrome.