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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Is there any harm in holding breath?

Answered by
Dr. Rahul D Chaudhari

Spine Surgeon

Practicing since :2002

Answered : 322 Questions

Posted on Sat, 2 Feb 2013 in General Health
Question: Hi, A few years ago I had an opportunity to use a swimming pool for a few weeks and while I was in it every day I tried, with my friends, to see how long I could hold my breath. We would go underwater holding our breaths for as long as we could and then resurface. We did this repeatedly for about an hour a day for 3 weeks. I went from holding for about a minute and a half until at the end of the 3 week period I would stay under for just under 3 minutes, I think. So my question is: Was it harmful what we did? We always took XXXXXXX breathes before going under and no one ever passed out or anything. Is there any reason to think harm could have been done by not breathing for a few minutes underwater, for a period of about an hour a day for three weeks? I hope you can clarify. Thanks
Answered by Dr. Rahul D Chaudhari 17 minutes later

Thanks for the query.

It wont cause any harm. You are doing it the right way and gradually increasing your breath holding capacity. In extreme situation, only danger is that you may inhale the water in the lungs. However, it is rare to happen when you are doing voluntarily. Other way, this practice will increase your lung capacity.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Mohammed Kappan
Follow up: Dr. Rahul D Chaudhari 27 minutes later
Thanks for your prompt and helpful reply. It's amazing how only a few sentences can be so reassuring. I just want to ask one more thing. Ive been having trouble reading for the past few years and I thought it was from this holding breath procedure. I used to read fine, but now when I look at a page I frequently have to wait for the words to sink in, it doesnt go smoothly. And I also see the wrong letters sometimes, and skip over words. If its not from the breath holding, could you advise me where it could be from? Thanks
Answered by Dr. Rahul D Chaudhari 3 hours later
The problems you mentioned are not related to breath holding.

Have you been diagnosed with any other medical problems? Any learning difficulty during schooling?

I would suggest to consult a neurologist and get thoroughly examined to diagnose whether it is just a functional problem or something else.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Shanthi.E

The User accepted the expert's answer

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