What Holding Your Breath Does To Your Body


How long was that?! He breathers, Amy here for DNews. Breathing is a reflex, and we do it about
19,000 times a day without even thinking. But when we hold our breath, or our breathing
is cut off, say by plunging a little too far into the deep-end, a few things happen in
our body. Please, don’t try this at home. We breathe to take in oxygen, which is used
to power our cells so they get energy. In this process, the cells release carbon
dioxide, which we breath out. When you hold your breath, residual carbon
dioxide that would ordinarily be exhaled starts to accumulate in your body. Your brain senses that it needs oxygen, and
when you can’t take it in, the buildup starts to become painful. First, you’ll feel a burning in your lungs,
then, after more time, involuntary and unbearably painful spasms in your diaphragm and the muscles
around your ribs, along with lightheadedness. The thing is, you won’t die just from holding
your breath alone. If you hold your breath long enough to lose
consciousness, your autonomic nervous system, which regulates your breathing, blood pressure,
and other automatic functions, would kick back in to get you breathing again. Of course, this assumes that you aren’t
underwater and are able to breathe in. If you do hold your breath underwater, your
body also experiences what’s called the mammalian diving reflex. It tries to preserve oxygen for its most important
organs, like the brain and the heart, by slowing down your heart rate and reducing blood flow
to the limbs. This is essentially your body’s ‘power
save mode’ to help you decrease oxygen consumption. According to a paper published by the American
Physiological Society, likely all mammals and possibly all vertebrates have similar
diving reflexes. But the mammalian diving reflex can only be
triggered by cold water on the face, which is why people can hold their breath longer
underwater than say, when they’re driving through a tunnel. The free diver Aleix Segura Vendrell currently
holds the world record for breath-holding at just over 24 minutes but he achieved this
after filling his lungs with pure oxygen first. Without that, the record for longest breath
holding in freediving is Branko Petrovic at a measly 11 minutes, 54 seconds. Which isn’t really measly at all. Seriously, don’t try this at home. It’s unclear if there’s any permanent
damage from repeatedly holding your breath. One study of divers in The Clinical Neuropsychologist
showed no long term neurological damages in divers. But another study by The American Physiological
Society did find that divers had an elevated level of the protein S100B, which could be
a marker for brain damage. It’s important to note that these studies
were done on small numbers of participants, so you know the line — more research is needed. If you do want to be good to your body though,
you should try out Graze.com. Graze makes snacking exciting by combining
wholesome ingredients with the flavors we all love, to create over 100 nutritionist-approved
snacks. Go to graze.com and enter promo code DNEWS
to get a free, sampler box delivered right to your home or work! But what if you’re not a trained freediver
but you still want to go down into the ocean? Check out this video on how one company is
developing a suit that acts as a personal submarine. Any other questions about the human body you
want explored? Let us know in the comments, subscribe, and
come back for more DNews every single day.

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