View Full Version : headaches and using too much air

03-29-2010, 10:39
Just got my o/w this weekend in Cozumel. I'm sure part of this is just me being a newbie but I was breathing way too much. My first dive at 60ft lasted barely 30 mins. In addition when I get back on the boat I had a killer headache after each of my dives. I believe they are related to me breathing too much air but wanted to get your opinions. Any advice on how to work on these issues?

03-29-2010, 11:52
It could be that you're hyperventilating a little. That can be a cause of the headache. Were you a little light headed as well? Any slight tingling in your feet, hands or around your mouth? All are signs of hyperventilation...or deeper than needed ventilation.

Another source of a headache is more serious: A little CO in the air. It's worse at depth. Did anyone else complain of a headache?

03-29-2010, 12:04
absolutely, you are breathing too fast, that is giving you the headache!

It will come with time... some people learn by counting ---
In one two three, pause, out one two three...

The more dives you do, the more relaxed you will be underwater and breathing normally.
Also, buying your own gear and diving regularly helps move this process along. If you only dive for a few days on vacation once a year, you will never get better at it.

03-29-2010, 12:30
Dehydration could have something to do with it as well.

03-29-2010, 14:38
I went to 60 feet on my first dive and got 20 minutes out of a steel 120

03-29-2010, 14:40
I find that I get headaches when the water is cold and I don't have enough exposure on.

03-29-2010, 14:40
On a possibly unrelated note - Make sure you equalize your mask (blow through your nose). A tight mask will give headaches.

03-29-2010, 15:56
Your breathing can cause headaches. Make sure your taking full breaths, breathing all the way in and all the way out. Shallow breathing and skip breathing can all lead to headaches.

Did you feel relaxed on the dives or stressed out with so many things going on.

Make sure you are very well hydrated when diving. I will drink a bottle of water 10-15 minutes before a dive and another after the dive. This is in addition to drinking regularly throughout the day.

03-29-2010, 17:25
I went to 60 feet on my first dive and got 20 minutes out of a steel 120

That's not too good, your sac rate was around a 1.85, you need to work on that. Mine is usually around a .5 to .55.

As to the OP, my guess is CO2, you need to work on relaxing and controlling your breathing as well. Also make sure you're well hydrated before every dive.

03-29-2010, 19:35
CO2 buildup is the likely culprit, from rapid rather than deep breathing.

Hypercapnia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypercapnia)

"The diver is over-exercising, producing excess carbon dioxide due to elevated metabolic activity."

CO is a second possible culprit but just ppm's of that at 3 atmospheres or so absolute pressure is likely to have much more dire effects than headaches.

My RMV (normalized SAC) was around 0.75 ft3/min, it's now down to 0.50 ft3/min after having my PFO closed, so I know all about too much CO2 in the blood stream! bigman241's consumption rate is over double what mine was with a 33% spillback of CO2 laden blood bypassing my lungs straight back into my aterial system!

I'll suggest trying more confined water practice on relaxing, breathing deeply and completely without ever closing your airway nor holding your breath.

03-29-2010, 22:18
Quit skip breathing. It does not save air and causes headaches.

Jack Hammer
03-30-2010, 00:34
Stay warm, keep well hydrated, exhale fully, relax, and have fun. These simple things can make a very dramatic difference in the type of experience one has diving.

03-30-2010, 08:17
Our instructors told us to slow breath and almost pause with a full lung of air. Seemed it helped me alot on the 4th and 5th dives. I went from 20 minutes to 40 I think it was just by slowing down my breaths.

03-30-2010, 11:42
You'd be surprised what jogging a mile every day can do for your respritory/cardio fitness...

03-30-2010, 11:57

Having good air consumption is something that takes a little time. Humans were not made to exist underwater. This is a very foreign environment and a lot of what you know doesn't work there.

First, get trimmed out well. If your weights are not balanced you will tend to roll to one side. You will naturally kick your feet or use your hands to keep yourself from rolling. This will cause you to use more air.

Second, get the right amount of weight. If you have too much weight you will need to add air to your BCD to become neutrally buoyant. As you go deep you will need to add air and as you go shallow you will need to dump air. The adding and dumping air will waste air plus the effort to watch your buoyancy will add stress which will increase your air consumption. The more excess weight you have the worse things get.

Third, don't use your hands. Most people tend to 'swim' with their hands. Underwater using your hands is very difficult. Moving underwater takes a lot of effort. Effort requires you to use air. The less you move your hands the less air you will waste.

Fourth, it is not a race. You don't need to kick a lot and get through the dive fast. Just float and enjoy the weightlessness. Talk to your buddy before you dive to let them know you will not be racing and to take their time.

Fifth, dive more. The more you dive, the more you become comfortable with being in the water. The more relaxed you are the better your air consumption will be.

All of this is something an instructor would go over with you if you took PADI's Peak Performance Buoyancy (PPB) course. If you cannot master these techniques on our own, think about taking the PPB course. You can use it towards getting your Advanced Open Water (AOW) certification.

There is more to learn but this will make the biggest difference. Once you are comfortable in the water you should find that you never run out of air. Instead you'll end up finishing a dive because you reached a No Decompression Limit (NDL). So a dive to 60 feet will last 55 minutes just because that is the NDL for 60 feet.


03-31-2010, 01:12
Quit skip breathing. It does not save air and causes headaches.

How do you define "skip breathing"? I ask as diving (at least in warm water) has become a meditation of sorts for me. I notice the pause at the top of the breath is now longer than a single count, really more a count of three or four, but I do not experience headaches.

03-31-2010, 08:34
Quit skip breathing. It does not save air and causes headaches.

How do you define "skip breathing"? I ask as diving (at least in warm water) has become a meditation of sorts for me. I notice the pause at the top of the breath is now longer than a single count, really more a count of three or four, but I do not experience headaches.

Skip breathing

Skip breathing is a controversial technique to conserve breathing gas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breathing_gas) when using open-circuit scuba (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-circuit_scuba), which consists of briefly holding one's breath between inhalation and exhalation (i.e., "skipping" a breath). It leads to CO2 not being exhaled efficiently. There is also an increased risk of burst lung from holding the breath while ascending.
Skip breathing is counter productive with a rebreather where the act of breathing pumps the gas around the "loop" pushing carbon dioxide through the scrubber and mixing freshly injected oxygen.

03-31-2010, 09:14
When I did my ow check out dive it felt like I was breathing through a straw after about 30 ft. but I didn't have a headache after. I would try to make a few dives using a different reg. and see how you feel. Once I broke down and bought my own reg. Breathing was much better.

I also remember read about some people taking a few really deep breaths right before they broke the surface. From what I understand some People can be CO holders and a few deep inhale and exhales would do the trick.

03-31-2010, 10:00
If you listen to 200 people describing their headache, you will get a multitude of different descriptions as there are so many different reasons & thus types of headaches.
Headache Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment on MedicineNet.com (http://www.medicinenet.com/headache/article.htm#toccches).

Now get out our multiplier cause your going under water with these same people and compounding their & your existing odds of problems.

Stay warm, keep well hydrated, exhale fully, relax, and have fun. These simple things can make a very dramatic difference in the type of experience one has diving.

I like these general suggestions. Some divers keep too much stale air in the lungs by breathing too shallow with a nearly full lung capacity (fear of letting all the air out of their lungs, just in case the tank runs dry) and as mentioned higher CO2 levels will then enter the bloodstream regardless of breathing rate.

I like the staying warm to decrease the odds of sinus drainage and blockage with pain resulting, especially occurring frequently in cold water dives.

I like staying hydrated to help allow our kidneys to correctly regulate electrolyte levels to help prevent cramps, etc. etc.

And of course, learning to go into a relaxed mode as soon as possible to prevent the - fight or flight - nervous system from kicking in and gobbling up the oxygen. Fight-or-flight response - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fight-or-flight_response)

03-31-2010, 20:15
Even if you don't dive often you can still manage your air with the best of them if you stay in shape and do something that works with breathing, yoga, Pilates, or become proficient in the pool swimming with your breathing....BR

04-13-2010, 13:48
I had a headache after my dives on Saturday and Sunday. I was also wondering about what the cause might be, and it sounds like it might be due to the much colder waters then I swam in before. I wanted to make sure I was not doing something wrong before I go down to Cozumel, and I do not believe I skip breath (at least not intentionally.) I drank plenty (1.5L) of water before and after the dives, so I knew it was not dehydration. Since it was 25F degrees cooler then the pools I was practising in, I think that explains it. Thanks to all for putting in their input on this thread, to help answer my same question.

04-14-2010, 08:02
Here's my opinion: One word "SLOW". Meaning try to not get to excited and control your entire experience. Staying calm, and moving slow, will be rewarded with realization that you move just as fast kicking slow, and your gas consumption will go down, and headaches will become a thing of the past, etc.... If you start to get cold during your dives, this is sign you are doing it right. Moving slow has many benefits. The one downside is you won't generate much heat and might start to get cold during your dives. You see new divers hit the water and race to the bottom, then paddle like crazy all over (this is why split fins were invented, they are designed as a governor for people who paddle like crazy), then they usually accend as fast as they can (by whichever method they can find that will give them the go ahead to do it as fast as possible).
My recomendation: Decend slow clearing often, paddle slow and enjoy, accend a little slower than recomended by your sources (Recomended is normally 30fpm, so shoot for 20fpm), wear a wetsuit that will keep you warm instead of bragging you only need the minimum (why, I'll never figure out / but it seems this is a bragging point you hear many claim often).
What you will see is slowly all the fast moving braggers start to occassionally have headaches, clearing issues, and many times completely get stopped from diving from blown ear drums, bends, etc...
Another huge benefit of moving slow and enjoying is, the sea life will not run away from you.
There is no way around it. Those who try to go fast loose alot. Those who go slow end up enjoying so much more, and rarly have complications, and enjoy all sorts of benefits.
It all starts by chilling, and realizing the go faster guys around you (they are present everywhere)are getting nowhere faster than you by trying twice as hard. This is the biggest advantage you can gain in diving, and it's free. After you realize this huge freebee you can get little things like a super easy breathing reg, perfect weight distribution, fins that perfectly accomadate your style, new warmer wetsuits because you are cold now etc...

05-23-2010, 09:30

my name is mohamed el-sayed, I'm diving instructor work in the red sea egypt, about your problem this is normal for all the begnner divers, becuase they try to hold they breath to save the air but this leading to headech and also make you consume alot of air, but the best way to avoid this is to breath normally, deep and slow, and also try to polish your bouancy this will make you very comfortable under water and will help you to save alot of air, my advice to you is to do your advanced open water course and start this course with peack performance bouancy dive this will help ypu alot, for more informations visit the link below.

Dive in the warmest sea in the world.

Red Sea Diving (http://www.red-seadiving.co.uk)