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    Diving Blackouts: Hyperventilation

    April 19, 2021 4 min read

    diving blackouts: hyperventilation


    Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned diver, it is still necessary to learn how to prevent shallow water blackout, and how to ensure the safety of your diving buddies. Here's our quick guide to help you prevent hyperventilation. 

    What Is Hyperventilation?

    Hyperventilationhyper means a lot or too much, and ventilation is the breathing activity. Hyperventilation is defined as more breathing than your body requires at a certain moment. When you walk, run, sit, or do any activity, your body’s normal oxygen saturation is around 96% to 98%. When you breathe too much, your body becomes 100% oxygen saturated.

    What Happens To Your Body When You Hyperventilate?

    When you keep on breathing excessively, you hyperventilate. You will start to feel dizzy. Remember, being 100% saturated with oxygen is dangerous. 

    All you're doing is lowering your level of carbon dioxide in your system. When your level of carbon dioxide gets lowered, you dispense or block the actual trigger that makes you want to want to breathe - which is the carbon dioxide. 

    If that urge to breathe comes too late to tell you to get to the surface and get some air, you will most likely have a blackout on the way up. Many of the blackouts that happen to divers occur because the person hyperventilates and the urge to breathe comes too late. When the diver swims to the surface, he gets halfway or even gets to the surface and then blacks out. 

    How To Prevent Hyperventilation?

    Don’t be afraid to get uncomfortable.

    One of the main reasons why people tend to hyperventilate is because it gives a comfortable dive. It makes us feel good because you don't get the urge to breathe. When you hyperventilate, you get a comfortable dive, but you lose the urge to breathe at a normal rate.

    The tragic thing about shallow water blackouts is the fact that you will actually black out while you still have a bit of oxygen in your blood. It's just not being released into the blood system so that you can use it. Don't be afraid of the urge to breathe. Don't be afraid of a bit of contraction. Use these signals to tell you when it's time to come back up, so that you're always working within a safe level.

    Hyperventilating actually cuts your time underwater.

    One important thing to know is that it has been tested and showed that hyperventilation does not give you a longer time before your blackout. It actually gives you a shorter time. This is because you create more alkaline blood by not having so much carbon dioxide in it. And the alkaline blood causes too much hemoglobin, the protein that holds onto the oxygen that catches and holds onto the oxygen. It causes the hemoglobin to hold onto that oxygen. On the other hand, carbon dioxide is responsible for the acid in the blood causing the hemoglobin to release the oxygen.

    Beware of samba

    Aside from blackouts, we’re also looking at the dangers of a samba. A samba means a loss of motor control. It's a colloquial term, it's like a convulsion. It happens when there's not enough oxygen going through the system for the cells to communicate with each other and the body goes out of control.

    Recognise any signs of trouble

    One of the areas you need to master to become a safety diver is recognising when a diver is in trouble. Part of it is understanding your own, or your diving buddy’s swimming ability and notice anything that could be wrong quickly. 

    For example, when the diver is coming up, (and most of the problem a diver gets into is in the top 10 meters), there is a change of pressure. You'll find out about this in full detail when you do afreediving course. This is the biggest change of pressure in your entire dive is that top 10 meters. This is why shallow water blackouts happen in that top 10 meters. You can read more aboutshallow water blackouts in this blog. It's your observation that could save your partner’s life.

    If your partner gets a lung full of water, that can be a major problem. He needs to be brought into the hospital. They could get secondary drowning. Secondary drowning is when saltwater (but can also happen with fresh water) enters the lungs. The body reacts to the entry of foreign water, especially salt water. Some of the symptoms may include:

    • coughing
    • chest pain
    • difficulty breathing or speaking
    • irritability or unusual behavior
    • low energy or sleepiness after a water incident

    As a freediver, you have to be educated on how to handle different kinds of emergency situations. Enrolling in a diving course could certainly help you improve your skills. Check out thesediving courses near you. You can start studying and drilling.

    Your diving buddy’s safety and your own safety depends on your ability to handle these situations. Remember, the most important thing is diving with a buddy and having the buddy responsible and actually doing what he should be doing. It all boils down to communication. You let your buddy know what you're doing so you can act fast when something goes wrong.

    If you need additional tips and guidance on how to properly get started with spearfishing, visit theAdreno Spearfishing Blog now! You can also check out our massive range of spearfishing gear!