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Lung damage vs. Cardio fitness

HooSlayer

Member
Oct 20, 2018
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I have lung damage probably from years of heavy pot smoking and other unmentionables. I have been clean for years now though. I noticed lung pain that lasted even after stopping partying. There may be permanent damage.

Cardio wise I train (swimming) very hard and even did while I was using/smoking.

I'm just wondering how big of a factor the health of lung tissue to absorb oxygen is in importance vs actual cardio and heart strength. I realize the lungs and heart are connected but is it possible that strong heart and high heme levels and CO2 tolerance are most important to performance vs. The speed amd rate at which the lungs can absorb oxygen which I might have damaged. Also the size and capacity and elasticity of lungs to take volume may have been hurt..lung volume is an obvious asset to a freediver but what about O2 absorption rates?

Like the O2 will still get absorbed as you dive but just at a slower rate than a healthy lung.
 

7BDiver

Active Member
Sep 5, 2019
138
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In my opinion, ones cardiovascular system will be affected more by recreational unmentionalbles and will have much greater repercussions than smoking will have on the lungs when it comes to diving and exercise. It is a very delicate balance between the lungs, heart and rest of the vascular system. Symptoms of the cardiovascular system can mirror those of having deteriorated lungs especially if fluid retention is a problem.
 

cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
4,040
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Slowing down the rate of 02 absorption might actually be an advantage for freediving, protective against blackout (maybe), as long as slowing absorption doesn't result in lower saturation to start with. My 02 saturation is significantly lower than precovid, and is getting lower. Covid appears to have damaged my lungs ability to absorb 02; even moderate hyperventialtion (huffing and puffing) doesn't raise my saturation to 98. Sure seems like that reduces my diving safety factor.
 
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HooSlayer

Member
Oct 20, 2018
75
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In my opinion, ones cardiovascular system will be affected more by recreational unmentionalbles and will have much greater repercussions than smoking will have on the lungs when it comes to diving and exercise. It is a very delicate balance between the lungs, heart and rest of the vascular system. Symptoms of the cardiovascular system can mirror those of having deteriorated lungs especially if fluid retention is a problem.
I did not use stimulants at all so I don't think i directly damaged my cardio function. I was a slow down...not speed up type of guy if you catch my drift. Although smoking can damage the actual tissue of the vessels...in addition to the lung damage.

Really I'm concerned about permanent lung damage because my lungs never felt the same again to be honest. Even Years later. Sometimes some pain if I freedive all day (spearfishing so super long sessions)...seems to be associated with large breaths because I don't get it from swimming.

It could be all in my head but it just feels like I don't get as much oxygen when breathing normal as I used to. I mean I'm like 15 years older now so it could just be aging or my imagination.

CT scans 3 years ago to monitor a polyp in my lung showed nothing strange or alarming going on.

But it's pretty safe to say I probably damaged my lung tissue by what I did.

At the end of the day, my dive performance and ability seems to be about the same as it's always been but I'm always haunted about what I did to my lungs over those years.
 
Last edited:

HooSlayer

Member
Oct 20, 2018
75
16
23
37
Slowing down the rate of 02 absorption might actually be an advantage for freediving, protective against blackout (maybe), as long as slowing absorption doesn't result in lower saturation to start with. My 02 saturation is significantly lower than precovid, and is getting lower. Covid appears to have damaged my lungs ability to absorb 02; even moderate hyperventialtion (huffing and puffing) doesn't raise my saturation to 98. Sure seems like that reduces my diving safety factor.
Do notice any decreased performance in freediving or in normal cardio training as a result?

How severe was your covid?

I may have had covid but never confirmed was it was. It was one of the worst sicknesses I've had but it wasn't anything wildly different from influenza symptoms...just more intense.
 

cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
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Relatively mild case, less than yours, initial symptoms disappeared after about 2 weeks, but very slow recovery after that. Took 4-6 months for diving and cardio exercise to feel normal, longer than that for full cardio performance to return. Now I feel nothing beyond normal, but my normal 02 saturation (which was 98-99) is now 92-96 and dropping slowly. Might not be covid, but sure looks like it is.
 

cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
4,040
792
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HooSlayer, suggestion

Get a finger oxymeter and see what your saturation is, at rest, during moderate cardio and during a simulated dive.
 

xristos

Well-Known Member
Sep 5, 2013
163
37
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Sometimes some pain if I freedive all day (spearfishing so super long sessions)...seems to be associated with large breaths because I don't get it from swimming.
Some pain when doing full breath after a long and/or deep session sounds to me like a minor lung squeeze, have had the same thing happen to me. If it is a notch more serious you will feel like coughing on any breath over tidal volume and have to take tiny breaths.
 

Lil Dragonfly

Well-Known Member
Jun 14, 2009
403
29
118
Some pain when doing full breath after a long and/or deep session sounds to me like a minor lung squeeze, have had the same thing happen to me. If it is a notch more serious you will feel like coughing on any breath over tidal volume and have to take tiny breaths.

I read somewhere years ago that exposure to even small amounts of second-hand smoke greatly increases the risk of squeeze, so who knows what all that first hand smoke did to you. Does anyone have any studies on this?
 

xristos

Well-Known Member
Sep 5, 2013
163
37
68
25
I read somewhere years ago that exposure to even small amounts of second-hand smoke greatly increases the risk of squeeze, so who knows what all that first hand smoke did to you. Does anyone have any studies on this?
I 've never smoked but as a kid I used to do lung stretching and had a pneumonia that doctor called a flu so had it for 1month do we have any studies on these as well? I think lung stretching as a young kid is a bad practice but can't prove it..
 

The Exhale Diver

Well-Known Member
Sep 11, 2004
37
9
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Hello, for what its worth I have been spearfishing on exhale diving for almost 15 years, originally I was an inhale diver but gave that up and I much prefer exhale diving. This may be something to consider if your having trouble fully inhaling?

I can attest I dive better on it than when I was inhaling. I remember once training in a pool I exhaled and lay on the bottom for 2:15 then swam 25 metres (80 add feet) for a dive of 2:53, and that was taking it easy because I was alone (not ideal).

But anyway I was just thinking it could be an option for you, I recently did a video on my experience with exhale diving.

 

MikeMcC100!

Member
Mar 29, 2017
7
0
11
64
Hoosayer
You have a number of interesting and worthwhile responses to consider. Many are referring to why your past drug use impacted your system’s limited ability to absorb oxygen. Like you, I don’t use drugs anymore unless prescribed by my doctor. I work in the insurance industry and have seen how lung scaring from Covid 19 has significantly limited air absorption in the survivors. Covid 19 impacted many older, handicapped individuals by flooding their lungs with mucus. Last weeks news news mentions a Covid survivor getting a double lung transplant. Your lung’s new cell reproduction may take time to grow and repair. Sadly, it could be permanent circumstances. The media is not teaching us if post Covid victims are sharing if they get full use of their lungs back. ( Please note, I’m not a physician) but I do believe in doing all you can. I think you could focus on staying fit, ensure you are eating healthy and get full hours of nightly sleep. I recommend you consider keeping a journal about your health. Diving is our art and its a new frontier. The impact of how the atmospheric changes effect post Covid divers or how about your jumps(dives) are worth recording.
It’s my opinion only, but I believe, if Covid 19 has had impact on your lung capacity your keeping records could be worthwhile and something our group may want to talk about. Some divers take decongestants before diving to limit mucus and help their sinuses for ear and mask clearing. It may help your breathing by limiting that runny nose we can get on dives. These opinions are intended to help. For me, the idea of not diving would send this old boy off the deep end literally! Best of luck spear fishing & may all your dives be safe ones.
Respectfully
Mike
 

Greg Rothaus

Well-Known Member
Jun 6, 2008
12
4
93
You should get a full pulmonary function test (PFT) which will answer a lot of questions as to where your lungs stand now. You can repeat the test later to check for improvement.
 

waterbro

Well-Known Member
Jun 29, 2008
7
2
88
thanks for asking that question, it is important. When I taught SCUBA, I spent quite a bit of time researching this. I was a heavy smoker as a teenager, and slowly over the years tried many times to stop. Like you I was swimming and diving and still smoking. I did quit while training for open water competitions like the Gatorman, going on travel for multi-day series of dives like Cayman Islands, or surfing the North Shore of Oahu. I weighed the risk and found it too large when pushing myself to a new limit. When SCUBA diving, I used NOAA Nitrox 32/36 which really helped, but of course limited me to relatively shallow dives.

The lungs can heal themselves to an amazing degree, but the irritants must stop. Many of the old sea dog divers I met still smoked like fiends. It might be good to get a lung function test. A great diet, rich in antioxidants and phytos (greens), plus vitamins can speed up healing. It takes about a decade to heal the lungs, but some damage, like the unmentionables, is permanent. I have seen good results with salt rooms for this kind of condition.

It may be after the fact, but studying the physiology of oxygen transport helped me to moderate my destructive behaviors. It is as much art as Art as Science. The Divers Alert Network and their University Facility at Durham, NC is probably the premier source. I've never been able to figure why I made the choices to hurt myself, but being aware of the beauty and complexity of the human body has helped to curb it somewhat.

Best of luck on your journeys through the Depths!
 

Lil Dragonfly

Well-Known Member
Jun 14, 2009
403
29
118
At one point I had what was probably chemical burns in my lungs (I never did get a formal diagnosis, we autistics receive crappy healthcare because doctors don't take us seriously). Taking Lung Tonic by Herb Pharm (I think that was the name of it?) helped. Anecdotal evidence yes, but it won't hurt and might help.
 

deckard1

New Member
Apr 5, 2021
2
1
3
69
I did not use stimulants at all so I don't think i directly damaged my cardio function. I was a slow down...not speed up type of guy if you catch my drift. Although smoking can damage the actual tissue of the vessels...in addition to the lung damage.

Really I'm concerned about permanent lung damage because my lungs never felt the same again to be honest. Even Years later. Sometimes some pain if I freedive all day (spearfishing so super long sessions)...seems to be associated with large breaths because I don't get it from swimming.

It could be all in my head but it just feels like I don't get as much oxygen when breathing normal as I used to. I mean I'm like 15 years older now so it could just be aging or my imagination.

CT scans 3 years ago to monitor a polyp in my lung showed nothing strange or alarming going on.

But it's pretty safe to say I probably damaged my lung tissue by what I did.

At the end of the day, my dive performance and ability seems to be about the same as it's always been but I'm always haunted about what I did to my lungs over those years.
Hmmm. Cardio swimming? Unless you're a competition swimmer, I think you would do better working your major leg muscles in hard 30 to 60 second intervals--sprinting on grass, dirt, or sand. Or the same timed intervals going all out on a Schwinn Aerodyne. That will dramatically increase your wind and stamina. Do that for several weeks, 3 or 4 times a week, and see if your problems haven't disappeared.
 
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Mr. X

Forum Mentor
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jul 14, 2005
8,197
1,669
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Hmmm. Cardio swimming? Unless you're a competition swimmer, I think you would do better working your major leg muscles in hard 30 to 60 second intervals--sprinting on grass, dirt, or sand. Or the same timed intervals going all out on a Schwinn Aerodyne. That will dramatically increase your wind and stamina. Do that for several weeks, 3 or 4 times a week, and see if your problems haven't disappeared.
The Schwinn Aerodyne, my favourite piece of indoor cardio exercise equipment (that and the NordicTrack XC ski machines) - are they still made? I think Schwinn went bust while I was still living near Chicago, maybe 24 years ago? Not my fault, I bought a high end Schwinn racing bike while living there, which I still love riding, and unwittingly persuaded a friend to buy a Schwinn Aerodyne (as we both used them at the local college gym), and which he still uses to stay fit during the winter.
 

ReefTroll

Expert Space Drummer
Apr 9, 2008
1,720
332
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I have lung damage probably from years of heavy pot smoking and other unmentionables. I have been clean for years now though. I noticed lung pain that lasted even after stopping partying. There may be permanent damage.

Cardio wise I train (swimming) very hard and even did while I was using/smoking.

I'm just wondering how big of a factor the health of lung tissue to absorb oxygen is in importance vs actual cardio and heart strength. I realize the lungs and heart are connected but is it possible that strong heart and high heme levels and CO2 tolerance are most important to performance vs. The speed amd rate at which the lungs can absorb oxygen which I might have damaged. Also the size and capacity and elasticity of lungs to take volume may have been hurt..lung volume is an obvious asset to a freediver but what about O2 absorption rates?

Like the O2 will still get absorbed as you dive but just at a slower rate than a healthy lung.
Your VO2 max will definitely be impaired. VO2 max is the measure of how much of the oxygen you breath your body actually utilises and smoking impairs this greatly.
 
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