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Outlook good after swimming-related lung problem

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, Aug 25 (Reuters) A few people are prone to develop fluid build-up in the lungs -- that is, pulmonary edema -- after swimming, either on the surface or while scuba diving. Now, a team of physicians has shown that there are apparently no long-term consequences from the condition, once individuals recover.

According to Dr. Richard Thomas Mahan, with the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, and his associates, the symptoms of swimming-induced pulmonary edema are sudden onset of breathlessness or coughing up blood during or immediately after swimming. This occurs in the absence of any aspiration of water or any sign of infection.

The team assessed the cardiopulmonary function of 11 otherwise-healthy patients who had recovered from swimming-induced pulmonary edema at least 1 month before. The results were compared with those from 9 similar but unaffected ''control'' subjects. All of the study participants were male US Navy Special Warfare members.

According to the investigators' report in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, the cases and controls did not differ significantly in their results on pulmonary function tests and cardiopulmonary exercise testing.

Moreover, ''there was no evidence of obstructive or restrictive lung disease,'' the researchers report, or of any other underlying abnormalities that would explain why some individuals develop swimming-induced pulmonary edema.

Mahan and his associates suggest that the condition may result from the combined effects of immersion and increased pressure in capillaries brought on by exercise.


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