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Most people have heard of hyperventilation or breathing too quickly and shallowly. Hypoventilation, which is less well known, is the exact opposite -- a condition that leads people to breathe less than they should; it can be a cause, an indicator, or the result of another medical problem. Many different actions, conditions, and medications can cause hypoventilation, with treatment generally dependent on the cause.

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1. What is Hypoventilation?

It is also known as respiratory depression. It happens when the body does not receive the amount of ventilation necessary to carry out the essential oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange -- in other words, a person breathes too slowly and, therefore, ineffectively. The result is high levels of carbon dioxide in the body that can lead to severe medical emergencies.

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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.