A Home (Postural Hypocapnic) Hyperventilation Test for ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia

Otherwise known as hyperventilation caused by standing

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    Dr. Natelson has found that about 20% of people with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) hyperventilate or take rapid, shallow breaths when they stand. (A small percentage may hyperventilate when they lie down as well.)

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    The hyperventilation is not associated with anxiety or other psychological factors but appears to be caused by autonomic nervous system dysfunction.

    By increasing the levels of CO2 released into the air CO2 levels are reduced in the blood. Reduced blood CO2 levels can cause fatigue, pain and other symptoms often found in ME/CFS and FM.

    Two Tests For Hyperventilation

    A Simple Hyperventilation Test
    • Take a breath and hold it: if you can only hold for your breath for 35 seconds or less you may be a chronically hyperventilator. Most people can hold their breath for 45 seconds or more.
    A Hyperventilation Test When Standing
    • Stand up straight for 8 minutes.
    • If you start to feel ill stop and rest for a while.
    • Repeat the test but time breathe into a paper bag held across your nose and your mouth. If your symptoms appear when you are breathing into the bag you may be hyperventilating.
    Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2006 Aug;291(2):H904-13. Epub 2006 Mar 24.Postural hypocapnic hyperventilation is associated with enhanced peripheral vasoconstriction in postural tachycardia syndrome with normal supine blood flow.,Stewart JM1, Medow MS, Cherniack NS, Natelson BH.

    Hypocapnia is a biological marker for orthostatic intolerance in some patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Natelson BH, Intriligator R, Cherniack NS, Chandler HK, Stewart JM.
    Dyn Med. 2007 Jan 30;6:2.