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blood spitting

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Dec 7, 2001
My friend some times cough up blood from the lungs when diving deeper than 35 meters. After the blood spitting he have to rest for a day, then he can dive again. Does anyone have any ideas on how to prevent this? Or does he have to push the limit further and spit blood every time?
hi basco

ive had blood cough up a few times I was only diving to max 12m and was getting severe tooth squeeze followed by a huge head ache, I got out and sat in the boat coughing up blood while my mates were still spearing fish, thats the only time its happened weird

I hope somebody responds who's in the 'know' about the blood-spitting thing. I've had 2 friends who I've seen this happen to and so far I've never heard a logical explanation of why it happens. For one friend it was isolated to a one-day event (during a clinic). He coughed up blood after doing a negative pressure dive and then had a bad samba (on the surface) soon after that during his first constant ballast attempt to 80 ft. My other friend used to cough up blood on a regular basis everytime he dove 70 ft. This friend was not as lucky as the first because he eventually died from SWB during a spearfishing tournament while diving in 70 ft of water.

Somebody (Eric Fattah?) please explain the blood spitting thing for us and its possible relation to reduced O2 utilization by the body.


Scott Turgeon
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I'm significantly concerned about this. As I heard one top Freediver tell a trainee - "Red means danger, when you spit blood it is Red and that means there is a problem".

I never fully got briefed on why it happens but I would suggest stopping for at least 24 hour, and if it happens again taking a further 48 hours off.

I will seek to get some experts to answer this query as quickly as possible with a proper answer!
I also have gotten this the past two weekends in a row. The first time was after depth of 95 feet, but the following weekend I also got it again after 85 feet. I have dove a dozen days prior to this since April and nothing like this. There have been however, quite a few cases in my area of very bad sore throats, progressing down to the lungs. Some have actually lost their voice. For me the blood spitting was entirely cleared up several hours after diving, but on my workout runs, I feel strange in the lungs. I'm hoping this is not a diving related injury but just aggravated by it. Quite a few cases of strep throat also in this area. Has anyone else experienced any virus-like symptoms associated with the throat and lungs only? And no congestion either. I'm beginning to get concerned about this.
Safe diving.
be careful!

This sounds like pulmonary edema, but check with a diving doctor to make sure.

Pulmonary edema (negative pressure on aveoli causing bleeding) can seriously affect your ability to absorb oxygen and even (apparently) lead to secondary drowning. I had this happen last year and had to take several weeks off diving below 30m.

There are many factors that could cause this:
--lack of rib cage flexibility
--body tension at depth
--fast dives
--going too deep too soon
--maybe others.....

Check it out with a doctor and stop diving for a while.

My symptoms included light headedness, wheezing, a cough, coughing blood, fatigue (less oxygen), dizziness...... you get the picture.

When you're recovered. Make your return to depth gradual. Try to work on relaxing completely at a new depth before moving deeper.

Be safe!

I concur with Pete on this - I would definately stop diving until the symptoms have subsided.

I think that this again raises the issue of people feeling that they somehow need to strive for deep dives to feel successful in their freediving.

I am curious as to what the circumstances were that led to the related issue. Were people attempting dives deeper than they had ever gone before? Were they pushing the envelope for their given skill set? Again, everyone needs to gradually attempt deeper dives and be in a constant state of training in one way , shape or form. I train 3-5 days a week. When I recently did my 100 foot dive, which was my personal best, I remember feeling very confident in my training that allowed me to go to this depth - especially after not having done any real depth training for severl months - but I had been either in the pool doing everyything from dynamic apnea drills to negative pressure dives on a constant basis or I was doing apnea weightlifting or cardio with timed apnea intervals.


Take it easy when going to depth's that are deeper than you have gone to before - and do them gradually. From my POV - stay in training - at least 3 days a week to maintain your capabilities....

I want to eventually meet all who are on the forums at some point...

i went to the doctor and asked about blood spitting, he said it was from a cold and dont worry about it I also asked him abot my tooth squeeze he gave me some antibiotics and havent had a problem since.

Cliff, you asked under what cirkumstances he started spitting blood. Well, we are both experienced divers who has been freediving for many years. Both of us makes easy comfortable 30m, 100 foot dives without problem. This time we had the chance to dive a bit deeper than before. Crystal clear water, nice weather, 4° at 20 meters, etc.. we just dived. And then he just happened to be there.. you know, you think you have made a perfect relaxed not so deep dive, but it turnes out you've dived deeper then you thought. We never watch at the depth meter at depht, we feel when it's time to turn. No matter wich depth. No one of us has ever had a blackout or samba. We always try to stay within our limits and we never dive more then 1-4 meters deeper than before.

A good dive is a dive when you know that you could have stayed down longer, or gone deeper.

That's is my philosophy.. A tough dive isn't a free dive.

I've heard some people cough blood when they have cought a cold. Maybe it could just be thin blood vessels? I nose bleed easily, maybe his lungs are similar.

Anyway, dive safe
Writing in 1823, Smith refers to cases of ancient Greek sponge divers whose "eyes become bloodshot" or who, after surfacing, "produces spitting of blood". Paralysis is just one of the hazards that Mericourt (1869) lists for the Mediterranean sponge diver. By 1900 Barbe had postulated that the anaesthesia, hyperesthesia, muscle spasms, convulsions and spasmodic paraplegia of contemporary sponge divers were "due to the release of excess gases dissolved in the blood."

The following is from an article on the bends. They also spitted blood...
"By 1900 Barbe had postulated that the anaesthesia, hyperesthesia, muscle spasms, convulsions and spasmodic paraplegia of contemporary sponge divers were "due to the release of excess gases dissolved in the blood."....

convulsions?... could Barbe have been describing sambas? interesting.

As for the blood spitting thing - I've had some experience of this, and seen it in other people too. It is fairly common. From what I know there are different types of bleeding...

What I have experienced is a few tiny specks of blood in my spit after diving. This first occured when I started diving sub45 over a year ago, but not every time. It took me a while to figure out what the cause was, and I now think that it was caused by 'aggressive' equalisation, and straining equalisation. At the time I was limited by ears and so I would always dive as deep as my ears would let me. The forceful way I would try to squeeze out the last equalisation resulted (I now believe) in the rupture of small capilaries around the upper throat / pharynx area. This is consistent with the fact that I rarely coughed, and that the blood didn't feel like it was coming from my lungs.

Since then my body has adapted to these depths and beyond, and I've since mastered continuous frenzel equalisation which means I no longer have to force equalisations - my ear limit is no longer an issue. So there's one cause of bleeding... Personally, I don't think this problem is particularly serious. The amount of blood being minute. If you get this sort of symptom, then look at how you're equalising...

I've also seen people who bleed quite a lot if they stretch their ear drums, by failing to equalise in time or whatever. I can't tell you much about this as I haven't experienced it myself.

The final, and perhaps worst example, (that I know of) is blood coming from burst alveoli, as laminar mentioned. This being the result of negative pressure in the lung - the only logical cause I guess. The answer to this is to work on flexibility of the rib cage and diaphragm. Also, I think it's very important not to progress too quickly in terms of depth and allow your body to adapt, especially when you start diving beyond the point of residual volume, 35-40 (roughly, depending on the person).

I've seen people have (blood spitting) problems after making sudden jumps in depth. My best advice is to progress slowly and repeat depths over and over.

Occasionally, in the past when I had dived to new depths (in whatever discipline), sometimes I would feel some tightness across my chest. This meant that my lungs were not ready to go any further. After doing lots of dives to those depths, gradually I adapted and now I never get that feeling. A big factor for this is the fact that I dive depth quite often, so I maintain that flexibility.

i'll shut up now... :eek:



My first friend I talked about (in the clinic) was his (our) first time ever attempting negative pressure dives. I saw him contract during his negative so violently it looked like somebody had shot him point blank with a 12 gauge. He had never dove past 60 ft and did his first CW of the day to 80 ft. That's when he had the samba. I, on the other hand, never could or never have got a contraction (or at least not one violent enough to notice). My first CW was to 98 ft, my second I stood on the bottom at 110 ft and picked up a piece of coral to bring to the surface with me. I had never dove deeper than about 85 ft prior to the clinic. My second friend (the one that eventually died) was a brand new diver and had been freediving for only about 6 months. He died during a spearfishing tournament on a wreck in 70 ft. It was their first spot of the day and on his first dive of the day he shot a barracuda close to the bottom. His partner (who also had a fish on first) was watching him come up but looked away before he made it all the way to the surface (he thought everything looked ok). What a horrible feeling it must have been for him to eventually pull in his buddies float line (with the 'cuda still on it) but have his buddy nowhere in sight. The body was found 1.5 hours later by SCUBA divers less than 100 ft off the wreck. Let me tell you what, just because you can dive a certain depth does not mean you can do it when your heart's trying to burst out of your chest because you are looking for a friend who you think has blacked out. Time is not very forgiving under these circumstances and realistically, by the time you even made 1 dive to the bottom to look around it would probably be too late. I always carry a 30 cf pony bottle (I used to carry a 13 cf bottle) on my boat that can put a diver in the water, on the bottom, before a freediver could even have time to breath up 1 time for a deep dive. I consider it very irresponsible for any freediver to dive any kind of depth from a boat without carrying some kind of safety bottle on board. That crap that was written earlier about don't dive with me if you can't dive as deep as me or spear me if you can't reach me is total 100% bullshit!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry for the rant.

Scott Turgeon
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Scott - I am not sure what to make of your response - is this an issue of something I said and you are having a challange with it or whas this something someone else said?

If it was something I said - let me clarify my position.

That crap that was written earlier about don't dive with me if you can't dive as deep as me or spear me if you can't reach me is total 100% bullshit!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can understand you feelings about being speared - I wouldn't want to be either...

The fact of the matter is that although you have this set up at your disposal, many freedivers do not and so an adaptation of skill sets and abilities needs to be taken into consideration. There are freedivers who don't freedive from a boat. If one were in this situation, and they had a dive buddy who could only dive to 40 feet, and for whatever reason, the other freediver had a problem at 60 feet - what would you do? That lesser experienced dive buddy can't come to help you because he can't reach you due to his lack of experience at diving to that depth - Reality: You're toast.


I don't believe the philosophy of diving within the skill set of the lesser experienced freediver is as you stated - bullshit. I personally, from one who has written about this for a number of years and from an educators perspective, believe it has more to do with not being simplistic in ones thinking and instead evaluating the whole situation to head off any potential problems.

But on the other hand - your carrying the equipment that you do on your boat while diving tells me that you have thought the process through very well to make sure you have as many bases covered as possible in your diving. I commend you for doing so.

It's a bummer to hear of the situations that you described - It puts into perspective the reality's of needing better overall training and mentorship for new freedivers - as well as common sense regarding the depths at which freedivers should be going based upon their skilll set.

If I have somehow missed the mark on your original response, I apologize in advance.


I did not direct my response to anybody in particular. I'm sorry if it came out that way or just seemed harsh in general and I apologize if I offended anybody. I was only saying that I would not appreciate being speared. And in my opinion, it's a ridiculous suggestion to begin with. Imagine how close you'd have to be to get a shaft to penetrate all the way through a human body or the accuracy (or luck) you'd have to have to not hit bone in the process. A dead body (or near dead) is extremely heavy at depth with a weight belt on especially if the lungs have filled with water. I know people who have recovered freedivers from the bottom who were unable to swim them up and had to tie a line to their leg and then get on the boat and pull them up (yes, in that situation the guy didn't make it). My other point was, I don't care how deep you can dive, it's a whole different story when your buddy's laying on the bottom dying and you only have a couple minutes to reach him before it's too late. My friend who was on the boat the day my other friend died is a good diver. He can dive at least 100 ft and probably more like 120. But that day he was unable to even dive 70 ft under the pressure. He tried but knew he'd end up on the bottom too if he kept it up. I just think it's irresponsible for people to make such outlandish recommendations unless they've actually tried them and know for a fact they work. When I wrote my last response, I didn't remember who had made those statements so I wasn't responding to anybody in particular.

Scott Turgeon
OK - I just wanted to make sure. Thanks for clarifying your position on what you were commenting about.
Alun, I think your correct

"It took me a while to figure out what the cause was, and I now think that it was caused by 'aggressive' equalisation, and straining equalisation.... The forceful way I would try to squeeze out the last equalisation resulted (I now believe) in the rupture of small capilaries around the upper throat / pharynx area."
Alun, I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned forceful eaqualization. The weekend I started spitting up blood, was one that I went 10' deeper than normal (95'), and I recall needing to force the equalizations. That entire week afterwards I had the worst sore throat (upper), and waves of what seemed like indigestion where the esophagus (sp?) meets the diaphram (if indeed they meet). Every ten minutes I would get this contraction or sensation to burp. Has anyone gotten this sensation after forceful equalizing? Your post has put my mind at ease, in that if I gradually progress to deeper depths, the body will adapt.
But where does the temporary "wheezing" come from while breathing up? I realize where the blood comes from on the deep breath holds, but what is the source of the phlegm that makes the wheezing sound?
These symptoms occured the following weekend as well, only to 86', but do you think more than a week of rest from freediving was necessary?
Thanks for the great info.
the buck stops here.

When dive i am responsible for myself. i know the risks and the rules. My buddy watching out for me is a bonus. Its not his responsibility to see to it that he can get me out if i over cook it.
If i do, and he pulls me out, i owe it to him for risking his life to save me as well as owing him for saving my life.
If i can out dive him, i dont risk his life by trying.

Aside from this, i dont think depth is an issue. Most problems will occur on the way back in anyones range. (-10m ) Its just a case of whether you are spotted before you sink down out of range.

I was diving in 15m of water in a lake with a new diver the other day when he didnt surface with me. 15 sec and 10 hasty puffs later i went down to find him in a panic thinking what i was going to say to his wife and i couldnt even dive past 10m. When i surfaced i looked about wildly and saw him where he had been all the while behind the buoy out of sight. I have no illusions about being able to save anyone unless the rescue 'falls into my lap' so to say.
The buck stops here.

dusting off this thread

The last two times I have gone freediving I have noiticed the feeling of fluid in my lungs. The last time (today) I noticed that I was coughing up blood. I remembered this thread and went back to read the info.

The only thing I do different than I used to is that my first dive is usually to around 60'. I used to "warm-up" for a dive or two before reaching 60+ . Perhaps I am just going deep too quick (and without any form of stretching before hand).

Any additonal thoughts on this matter (if there are any) would be welcomed.

BTW, these forums are a great source for all kinds of info (reminded as I looked back through the old threads). Query: any way of getting a forum search engine to allow easier access to a specific topic?

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Your blood spitting problem is not caused by going too deep. 60 feet is not deep enough to create any form of negative pressure in your lungs (assuming you're taking a full breath). Actually, with adaptation it's possible to dive this deep with hardly any air in your lungs and still not generate excessive negative pressure. By excessive, I mean to a degree that will cause any form of lung injury. So, it's not from going too deep...
If you are not relaxed and having very big contractions down there, then that could possibly be a factor. Related to that-- look at how you're equalising -are you using the Valsalva? ie. contracting your abdominals to increase the air pressure. This method is far from ideal, and could be the cause. If so, then you should learn the Frenzel... find Eric Fattah's article on equalising.
I would also recommend that you only dive when you feel 100%. Dont dive if you feel in the slightest bit 'chesty' or not 'clear' in the lungs. Give yourself plenty of rest before you dive again.

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