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What Causes Double Breathing After Crying?

Updated July 20, 2017

Double breathing after crying is a symptom of acute hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is a common side effect of crying, panic attacks or episodes of emotional stress. While double breathing after crying is normally safe if it occurs infrequently, it can be a disconcerting and alarming side effect for many sufferers.

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Causes of Double Breathing

Crying creates a disturbance in the regular respiratory function of the lungs and diaphragm. The diaphragm regulates inhalation and exhalation, helping the lungs maintain enough oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. While crying, the diaphragm can often be forced out of rhythm, preventing blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels from remaining consistent. The resulting efforts of the diaphragm to regulate these levels creates an uneven breathing cadence, which often feels like inhaling twice -- or double breathing.

Health Considerations for Double Breathing

Breathing irregularities such as double breathing or hyperventilation are not considered to have significant side effects as long as the sufferer does not experience symptoms often. If hyperventilation is brought on after crying, stress or anxiety, usually no underlying health problem exists outside the emotional stress of the isolated incident. Those suffering from double breathing and hyperventilation in these scenarios can take deep breaths to alleviate symptoms.

How to Stop Double Breathing and Hyperventilation after Crying

Stop double breathing and hyperventilation after crying by taking deep, steady breaths during episodes of stress. Following the "7-11 Model" for breathing can also stop hyperventilation; sufferers should inhale for seven seconds, and exhale for 11 seconds until symptoms subside. Breathing into a paper bag can also alleviate symptoms because it traps carbon dioxide, recirculating the gas back into the lungs and bloodstream.

How to Prevent Double Breathing and Hyperventilation

Prevent double breathing and hyperventilation by trying to remain calm during a heightened emotional state. By remaining calm, a person can maintain a proper breathing rhythm which limits the possibility of hyperventilation. Additionally, sufferers should avoid stressors and common anxieties to limit the number of episodes of double breathing.

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About the Author

Brian O'Connor is a professional writer and editor living in New York City. Writing and editing for Time Inc., the New York Stock Exchange, the National Geographic Society and Springer Science+Business Media, O'Connor has delved into topics as diverse as international finance, ecological conservation and clinical medicine. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and government.

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