Swimming induced pulmonary oedema (SIPE) is a condition which has gained attention in recent years. In short, due to somewhat unclear mechanism, fluid collects in the lungs, compromising the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream. This results in the following symptoms;
- Shortness of breath
- Decreased oxygen saturation (which has to be measured with medical instruments)
- Cough, sometimes with blood
There is ongoing research in the subject, and as the knowledge increases, we will hopefully learn how to better prevent, diagnose and treat the condition.
The current research suggests that the condition terminates in less than 48h. Often it’s enough to stop the activity, remove/open up the wetsuit and get warm. In some cases, oxygen therapy is needed. It’s not fully understood why the condition arises.
There are yet no studies evaluating the long-term effects of SIPE. There is evidence that susceptible individuals may have recurrent episodes of SIPE. There are some medications that may help to prevent recurrent episodes.
If you experience the above symptoms, we recommend stopping the activity and contacting race marshals. If you encounter symptoms during a training session, we recommend seeking medical attention since there are other medical conditions which can manifest in the same way.
Train smart, race hard and take care of yourself and your partner!