Normalizing CO2 in chronic hyperventilation by means of a novel breathing mask: a pilot study

Clin Respir J. 2013 Oct;7(4):359-66. doi: 10.1111/crj.12016. Epub 2013 Mar 20.


Introduction: Chronic idiopathic hyperventilation (CIH) is a form of dysfunctional breathing that has proven hard to treat effectively.

Objectives: To perform a preliminary test of the hypothesis that by periodically inducing normocapnia over several weeks, it would be possible to raise the normal resting level of CO2 and achieve a reduction of symptoms.

Methods: Six CIH patients were treated 2 h a day for 4 weeks with a novel breathing mask. The mask was used to induce normocapnia in these chronically hypocapnic patients. Capillary blood gases and acid/base parameters [capillary CO2 tension (PcapCO2 ), pH, and standard base excess (SBE)] were measured at baseline and once each week at least 3 h after mask use, as well as spirometric values, breath-holding tolerance and hyperventilation symptoms as per the Nijmegen Questionnaire (NQ).

Results: The mask treatment resulted in a significant increase of resting PcapCO2 (+0.45 kPa, P = 0.028), a moderate increase in SBE (+1.4 mEq/L, P = 0.035) and a small reduction in daily symptoms (-3.8 NQ units, P = 0.046). The effect was most pronounced in the first 2 weeks of treatment.

Conclusion: By inducing normocapnia with the breathing mask 2 h a day for 4 weeks, the normal resting CO2 and acid/base levels in chronically hyperventilating patients were partially corrected, and symptoms were reduced.

Keywords: breathing mask; dysfunctional breathing; hyperventilation; hypocapnia; rebreathing; respiratory acidosis; respiratory alkalosis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium / physiology
  • Acidosis, Respiratory / metabolism
  • Acidosis, Respiratory / therapy*
  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Alkalosis, Respiratory / metabolism
  • Alkalosis, Respiratory / therapy*
  • Capillaries / metabolism
  • Carbon Dioxide / blood*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperventilation / metabolism
  • Hyperventilation / therapy*
  • Hypocapnia / metabolism
  • Hypocapnia / therapy*
  • Male
  • Masks*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Carbon Dioxide