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Migraine and apnea training

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

Effect of regular apnea exercises on migraine

  • migraine was unaffected (with aura)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • migraine was unaffected (without aura)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • migraine got better (with aura)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • migraine got better (without aura)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • migraine got worse (with aura)

    Votes: 1 50.0%
  • migraine got worse (without aura)

    Votes: 1 50.0%

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .


New Member
Sep 28, 2001
This is to all of you who had occasionally suffered from migraine (=headaches often felt on one side, "sharp", often involving vomiting) and then started regular apnea training.

After poking around in the literature, I presume, that there might be an effect of regular apnea exercises (e.g. pool training) on migraine. I was, however, not able to find any study on that subject.

So therefore please let us know, whether you could observe any effect (e.g. in terms of frequency or severeness) of apnea on "your" migraine.

A second question is, whether you usually have an "aura" (e.g. flashing lights or blind spots) preceding the migraine-headache.

If you ever had migraine (or another form of headache) because of apnea exercises, you can write that as well.

After we had the poll open for a while, I will write down my assumption in more detail.

Have an nice Christmas!
About 2 months ago i was doing statics at the bottom of a 3m pool.

I ussually prefer sitting on the bottom while my buddy patiently waits just above me like a spy satelite.

On this occation while i was sitting on the bottom singing various songs in my head to get the time by i got a sharp pain on my right temple.I immediately surfaced and that was it for training for the next 3 days.

The whole side of my face felt like the exact after effects of a migraine attack and i know how that feels as is sufferd form migraines as a child.

Till today i have no idea what caused the sudden pain.
Hi Jeff,

Are you asking if we get migraine headaches from freediving, or if we somehow use freediving to treat or prevent them?

I am interested in both. In the poll, however, I wanted to find out whether people have experienced that apnea training could prevent migraine or not.


Hope to have clarified the question...

When I get a Migraine its often preceded by blurred vision and spots. As soon as the spots go away the pain starts. Its like having a nail driven into your brain. Not much fun!:(

Mine last for several days, I often go diving (well shallow dives to 4-5m) to relax during these 2-3 days. The strange thing is: If I do a exhale breath-hold whilst suffering a migraine, the pain is incredible. A full inhale breath-hold is ok for a minute or so before the pain starts to build. But an exhale breath-hold is near impossible. 5-10 secs at the most.

I've gotten migraines from diving for several hours and not re-hydrating sufficently but never as a result of actual breath-hold.

My main migraine triggers are the weather (low pressure changes and prolonged high pressure systems) and computer monitors (which is why I use LCD monitors only).

I constantly get bad migraine headaches every single time I go spearfishing. They tend to start after 3 hours of diving and I get sharp pains mostly when contractions start. By the end of the day I have a throbbing headache which doesnt go to well with the 30mile boat trip home :(

A few other things I have noticed.

I never get headaches after dry statics.
I sometimes get bad headaches when the contractions start in dynamic apnea.
I ALWAYS get bad headache pains after packing especially when I let the air out fast, I almost pass out everything goes dizzy and occasionally I get dizzy during the packing.

Hi Jeff and hi y'all!

What was the assumption that you mentioned in your original post?

Let me start by saying, that I am not a medical guy, just a physicist :cool:

Migraine is associated with changes in the brain's blood vessels:
The aura :confused: (if there is one) is thought to be connected with the blood vessels being widened.
The migraine itself :duh seems to be associated with the blood vessels being narrowed.

What has all this to do with freediving?
Our blood vessels react on the CO2-level in our blood:
Higher CO2-levels mean widened vessels.
Lower CO2-levels mean narrowed vessels.

In a medical study (abstract attached below) it was found that in migraine-patients, the reaction of the blood vessels on higher CO2-levels is much weaker than in "normal" persons. One reason for this might be, that the blood vessels in the migraine-patients' brains are in general more widened.

When we do our CO2-tolerance training, it should probably do something to the reactivity of the blood vessels towards CO2.
This should somehow affect the migraine. Whether it should get better or worse is difficult to say, but it seems plausible to me, that something has to change.

Hey you students:
Isn't that an absolutely cool subject for a thesis?

Maybe sometimes we will have a freediving therapy for migraine patients?


Here follows the abstract found via www.medline.de:

Cerebrovascular reactivity in migraine during headache-free intervals.

Cephalalgia 1997 May;17(3):191-4 (ISSN: 0333-1024)

Totaro R; Marini C; De Matteis G; Di Napoli M; Carolei A
Department of Internal Medicine and Public Health, University of L'Aquila, Italy.

Alterations of intracranial vessel tone have been implicated in the pathophysiology of migraine. The cerebrovascular reactivity was measured by means of transcranial Doppler in 60 migraine patients with (n = 30) or without aura (n = 30) during the headache-free interval and in 30 healthy controls. The vasomotor response was evaluated during hypercapnia induced by inhalation of a mixture of CO2 5% and O2 95% and during hypocapnia obtained after voluntary hyperventilation. To improve the power of the study in detecting possible abnormalities of cerebrovascular reactivity, two different measures were performed at 1 week intervals in migraine patients and controls. Reactivity index values during CO2 inhalation were significantly different (p = 0.01) among the three groups during the first and second measurements; in particular, lower values were found in patients suffering from migraine without aura with respect to controls (p < 0.05, Scheffe's test). Values of reactivity index obtained following induction of hypocapnia did not differ between migraine patients and controls (all p values > 0.05). Our data suggest a reduced vasodilatory response to hypercapnia of cerebral arterioles in patients suffering from migraine without aura with respect to controls that might be related to baseline arteriolar vasodilation.

I start to get a migraine about once every 10 days, used to be much worse. No aura, but if I don't take some imitrex quick, they can put me out for a day or more. Any kind of breath hold is intolerable,very painful, if I have an active migraine. If I am on the edge of a migraine, statics or apnea walking will push me over the edge, but diving often makes me fell better. Maybe the swimming type of excersize overcomes the effect of apnea.

Thanks for the interest and information.

hi to all,

again a very interesting topic !!
I had serious migraine attacks in my youth, like 2 attacks a week. thank god they faded when i got older.
Positive effect was, that for treatment these days i went to a treatment, where they showed me how to do headmassages and most important; breathing techniques (the basic yoga breahing), which had an enorm effect on the migraine and as a good basis for freediving.

Nowadays i can avoid some attacks with deep, slow breathing.
Somedays i still get a headache from diving especially in static an constant ballast. but its not a typicall migraine with aura, its more like pression buildin up in the head.

my question to this subject: Has anyone ever tried to get rid of the post diving migraine/headache with breathing oxygene ?


dan w
The pain of a migraine headache is often described as an intense pulsing pain in one area of the head.It is often accompanied light and sound, nausea, and vomiting.There are two ways to approach the treatment of migraine headache with drugs: prevent the attacks, or relieve the symptoms during the attacks.i have searched Imitrex medication,which medicine have very side effects and warnnings .this is useful for prevent migraine headache.
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