Shallow Water Blackout

According to Dr. Tom Griffiths of Penn State University, “Shallow water blackout (SWB) results from an insufficient amount of carbon dioxide to activate the body’s natural impulse to breathe.

Swimmers who practice prolonged underwater breath-holding are particularly at risk of SWB. By rapidly breathing deeply prior to submersion (hyperventilation), swimmers blow off an excessive amount of carbon dioxide. When the oxygen level in the blood runs low before the carbon dioxide level rises to the point that triggers the breathing reflex, the swimmer loses consciousness.

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