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Tingly and dizzy immediately after breathhold

Aug 30, 2018
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Los Angeles
#1
As my post history indicates I'm new to the forum. I'm slightly less new to freediving/spearing—been doing it very casually and infrequently for a while. However I'm getting more into it, and naturally one of the first steps I wanted to take was try to increase downtime. I've had quite a few misguided notions dispelled pretty quickly (hyperventilating is bad?! My goal isn't to just get as much CO2 out of my body as possible?!), and I'm trying to go about training and doing breathups the right way. But today when I was just doing some static practice in some dead time (breathe up for 3 minutes, 5 seconds inhale, 10 seconds exhale, none of which makes me feel stressed for air or anything of the sort, which I think means I'm not over breathing), the ten or so seconds immediately after my hold breath would feel, for lack of a better word, sketchy. I'd be very light headed, my vision would narrow, and I'd get lots of tingling in my extremities. This would dissipate after a bit and I could continue as normal, but it's unsettling. This happened both in a standing or sitting position (so upright).

I found this very concerning, but started to play around with it. I figured that, as a novice, my breathup was all wonky. But I tried doing no breath up, just a hold, and it still happened. Could someone explain what's happening? Is there a way I might be taking my inhale that's leading to lightheadedness? Any help would be appreciated.
 

hteas

Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2005
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Anchorage, AK
#2
Your blood pressure is probably dropping rapidly after the breathhold. blood pressure was measured during and after breathholds in 2 trained freedivers. It reached 300 over 200 during parts of the breathhold. This was a result of the diving reflex limiting blood flow to the body, shutting it off from the arms and legs. At the end of a breathhold the dive reflex stops and blood flow returns to the extremities, dropping blood pressure in the torso. There are techniques for dealing with this taught in freediving classes.
 
Likes: SubSub
Sep 6, 2018
2
0
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26
Arizona
#3
The tingling in your hands, feet, and possibly your chest and head comes from the lack of oxygen coming to your brain. This is why this is not a good technique for Freediving but for training on land it i think it is effective. Why it is so dangerous is because you can blackout under water.
 
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maninatikihut
Aug 30, 2018
16
2
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Los Angeles
#4
Your blood pressure is probably dropping rapidly after the breathhold. blood pressure was measured during and after breathholds in 2 trained freedivers. It reached 300 over 200 during parts of the breathhold. This was a result of the diving reflex limiting blood flow to the body, shutting it off from the arms and legs. At the end of a breathhold the dive reflex stops and blood flow returns to the extremities, dropping blood pressure in the torso. There are techniques for dealing with this taught in freediving classes.
What kinds of techniques? I intend to take a freedive class, but as a graduate student funds are tight. It's not easy to drop ~$400 right out of my pocket.

I don't want that to be mistaken as a cavalier attitude; I understand that there are serious risks involved, and I'm not trying to flaunt them. I'm bringing this up particularly because it's not associated with overbreathing. This happens even when I breathe normally and casually and then go to fill my lungs. Interesting, however, is that it doesn't happen when I breath lying down, only when standing up. That suggest it might be related to blood pressure, meaning it's at even a lower risk when diving, as the duck dive will send blood to my head. Still, it's a bit spooky, and I'm wondering if there's advice out there to mitigate the effects.
 

J Campbell

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2001
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Annapolis, MD, USA
#5
Describe your weight - are you skinny, average, heavy? When I was younger and skinny I would get this same effect (dizzy, tingling) when I hyperventilated hard. The cool thing was that after the effect wore off in about 15 20 seconds I had a period bliss for the following couple of minutes. But now I am about 30 pounds heavier and I can hyper a lot and not feel much at all.
 
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maninatikihut
Aug 30, 2018
16
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Los Angeles
#8
I edited my comment above with more info. When I was younger I was about 180 lbs and 6 feet
Hmm thanks for the above. Your experience still isn't totally settling, however. When I've been in the water I've gotten a little tunnel vision and womp-womp right after the duck dive, then it's subsided. When I was a little bit stupider I use to think this was indication that I was going to have a great dive (it generally did mean I had done a lot of overbreathing which helped my downtime at the time, but I understand how bad that is now). Now it's just a little freaky, as it feels dangerous.

To add a little more insight, and why perhaps I'm concerned: I'm on a college campus, as I'm a grad student. I had to cross campus to get to a bus, and I was doing apnea walks. I'd sit down and chill out breath up, then hold and breath. Taking the breath and standing up would lead to a sold 5-10 seconds of blur as I started moving, and it happened everytime. I'll concede a blood pressure thing from standing up, even though I was trying to do that very slowly. When I got on the bus, I decided to do one more little breath hold as I was sitting down, and I wanted to see how I did not moving. I blacked out. On the bus. Not a bad one, but I did my hold, got the womps pretty hard, but then next thing I knew I had started breathing again unintentionally (I was timing myself, and 18 seconds had elapsed when I realized i was breathing again). This has me a bit hesitant, having an experience like that. Wouldn't want it to be in the water, and is it happens just from a static breath hold it's a bit worrisome.
 

J Campbell

Well-Known Member
Sep 17, 2001
406
94
133
63
Annapolis, MD, USA
#9
That does sound unusual. Is your resting blood pressure abnormally low? Perhaps for diving you could remain on the surface until you feel ""normal". But the blackout on the bus seems kind of scary. Be sure to have your buddy watching closely when you dive!
How much air do you take in - a really super full inhale can increase pressure and make the symptoms worse.
 
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maninatikihut
Aug 30, 2018
16
2
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30
Los Angeles
#10
That does sound unusual. Is your resting blood pressure abnormally low? Perhaps for diving you could remain on the surface until you feel ""normal". But the blackout on the bus seems kind of scary. Be sure to have your buddy watching closely when you dive!
How much air do you take in - a really super full inhale can increase pressure and make the symptoms worse.
Basically as full as I can. I've simultaneously been trying to work on 'properly' inhaling, i.e. filling lowing in my stomach first then chest etc. But the issue remains: hasn't been a problem when lying down.
 

hteas

Well-Known Member
Mar 9, 2005
861
91
133
70
Anchorage, AK
#11
Try doing breathholds with casually full, or even neutral lung fills. You may be putting too much pressure on your heart.
related: look up frc diving here. It was quite popular for a while, and some still do it. It is basically empty lung diving, and does have some advantages.
when I was in school (undergrad and grad school) there were times I was under constant stress. Those were the times I had the greatest problems with getting dizzy when standing or suddenly moving.
Also quick breath after a breathhold, then tighten your chest muscles and hold the tension. It should increase blood pressure
 

cdavis

Supporter
Supporter
Jan 21, 2003
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Sarasota, Fla
#12
I'm one of those crazy FRC divers. In the right circumstances, it is a superior way to dive.

Your issue doesn't seem to be related to co2, which leaves blood pressure or maybe something bad. Hteas is probably on to something. Try half lung inhales. If the problem disappears, learn to dive exhale. Lots of info in these forums. If not, try compressing your chest after inhaling(less than a full breath) to raise your blood pressure. Hteas is describing a "hook" breath, very useful at the end of the dive to keep your BP up. If neither of those work, consider seeing a heart doc.
 
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maninatikihut
Aug 30, 2018
16
2
3
30
Los Angeles
#13
I'm one of those crazy FRC divers. In the right circumstances, it is a superior way to dive.

Your issue doesn't seem to be related to co2, which leaves blood pressure or maybe something bad. Hteas is probably on to something. Try half lung inhales. If the problem disappears, learn to dive exhale. Lots of info in these forums. If not, try compressing your chest after inhaling(less than a full breath) to raise your blood pressure. Hteas is describing a "hook" breath, very useful at the end of the dive to keep your BP up. If neither of those work, consider seeing a heart doc.
Thanks to you both. I'll keep playing around with things and get it sorted out before I get in the water.
 

Nathan Vinski

Active Member
Apr 19, 2015
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Canada
#14
If I understand correctly you are struggling with fainting at the beginning of the breath hold?

If thats so I would say that generally its not a major problem for actual diving either a full or half lung. I have a similar issue if I do any dry holds in an upright position, especially if I use any kind of hyperventilation. Just the other day I was messing around with FRC (1/2 full) and full apnea walks. I had to quit the first one because I almost fainted at around 6 seconds. The second one was 2:00. The third was quit at 15 seconds from starting to faint. fourth was 2:00. the Fifth was a full lung walk of 2:45, I had a fainting feeling until 30 seconds but it passed. I've only fainted once from this (4 years ago) and since then I'm very in tune with knowing if I need to quit the hold or if the feeling will pass depending on how fast the sensations develop.

There are 2 things that help a lot.. Take the final breath about 2->3x slower than normal, and prepare standing up if you will do a standing breath hold.\. My problem with the above workout was that I was prepping in a siting position and then standing up to walk which caused the fainting sensation even on the exhale holds.

Interestingly the better freediving shape I'm in the more this happens on dry holds. What I think its related to is heart rate. My resting HR when in the best diving shape is around 39-42bpm and this is when it happens the most. At that state it even happens consistently if I stand up too fast from a lying position.

I wouldn't worry too much about it though.. Despite my sensitivity to this when doing dry holds I've never felt any fainting sensation doing underwater holds even with max-packing or sudden fast inhales.
 
OP
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maninatikihut
Aug 30, 2018
16
2
3
30
Los Angeles
#15
If I understand correctly you are struggling with fainting at the beginning of the breath hold?

If thats so I would say that generally its not a major problem for actual diving either a full or half lung. I have a similar issue if I do any dry holds in an upright position, especially if I use any kind of hyperventilation. Just the other day I was messing around with FRC (1/2 full) and full apnea walks. I had to quit the first one because I almost fainted at around 6 seconds. The second one was 2:00. The third was quit at 15 seconds from starting to faint. fourth was 2:00. the Fifth was a full lung walk of 2:45, I had a fainting feeling until 30 seconds but it passed. I've only fainted once from this (4 years ago) and since then I'm very in tune with knowing if I need to quit the hold or if the feeling will pass depending on how fast the sensations develop.

There are 2 things that help a lot.. Take the final breath about 2->3x slower than normal, and prepare standing up if you will do a standing breath hold.\. My problem with the above workout was that I was prepping in a siting position and then standing up to walk which caused the fainting sensation even on the exhale holds.

Interestingly the better freediving shape I'm in the more this happens on dry holds. What I think its related to is heart rate. My resting HR when in the best diving shape is around 39-42bpm and this is when it happens the most. At that state it even happens consistently if I stand up too fast from a lying position.

I wouldn't worry too much about it though.. Despite my sensitivity to this when doing dry holds I've never felt any fainting sensation doing underwater holds even with max-packing or sudden fast inhales.
Thanks for the detailed response, Nathan. Your experiences make me feel quite a bit better, though I know I still have to do the work to get in better tune with my physiology.

All of what you said makes sense. I was doing the same problematic thing, where I'd prep sitting down and then stand up (which makes sense that there'd be blood loss to the brain). Considering this is doubly affected by lowering heart rate it all kid of makes sense. I haven't been in the water since I started playing with stuff, but hopefully I'll get in soon and get to try it out. As I think I said above, duck diving should help shunting blood back upstairs anyways, so that's helpful.

I will practice by filling my lungs more slowly, and giving the vasculature in my chest more time to adjust and keep blood moving.
 
Likes: Nathan Vinski