Part 4: Compromised Respiration
“Taking charge of breathing” triggered by an unconsciously learned breathing habit, or brought on by a misguided conscious breathing intervention, often results in overbreathing and immediate changes in acid-base physiology as per the H-H equation. The result is hypocapnia (PaCO2 deficit) and respiratory alkalosis (increased plasma pH). The rise in pH may trigger immediate and profound changes in physiology, some of which are listed in Table 1 (Hypocapnia: Physiological Effects).
The symptoms and deficits associated with the physiological changes listed in Table 1 can be profound, even devastating, and may include ones that are physical (e.g. brain fog), emotional (e.g., anger), cognitive (e.g., attention deficit), personality (e.g., sense of self), and behavioral (e.g., test taking)changes. Some of these symptoms and deficits are listed in Table 2 (Hypocapnia: Symptoms & Deficits).
The physiological changes listed in Table 1 can also trigger (e.g., epilepsy), exacerbate (e.g., asthma), and prolong (e.g., nausea during pregnancy) symptoms and deficits associated with numerous organic conditions. Some of these organic conditions are listed in Table 3 (Hypocapnia: Exacerbation of Health Issues and Complaints). These effects are all too often mistakenly attributed to other causes or are identified an “unexplained symptoms” in clinical literatures.
Overbreathing is the most common form of learned dysfunctional breathing affecting respiration in unencumbered healthy people, although underbreathing habits are occasionally seen. Learned underbreathing, when it does occur, is usually the result of hyperinflation, where people continuously abort their exhales, thus moving air in and out of anatomical deadspace and preventing inhaled air from adequately reaching the alveoli of the lungs where gas exchange takes place. That is, although the breathing may be very fast, alveolar ventilation remains inadequate. As in the case of many
dysfunctional habits, hyperinflation is usually associated with phobia about getting enough air coupled with faulty beliefs about breathing.
Some of the physiological effects of overbreathing on neurophysiology listed in Table 1 and their associated symptoms and deficits listed in Table 2, are briefly reviewed in the next section of this report from the perspective of their role in the effects of breathing on consciousness.
Written by Dr. Peter Litchfield
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