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Snorkeling With Dry Snorkels for Asthmatics

By Teresa Bergen

Asthma sufferers may hesitate before donning snorkel gear and jumping in the water. Stimuli involved in snorkeling -- such as exercise, salt water mist, cold water and feelings of claustrophobia -- can trigger asthma attacks. While no snorkeler enjoys accidentally breathing salt water through his or her snorkel, this is especially dangerous for an asthmatic person. A piece of gear called a dry snorkel lets little or no water into the snorkel. If any water manages to infiltrate the snorkel tube, a mechanism channels it out before the snorkeler breathes it. When diving, a float valve at the top of the snorkel closes so water doesn’t get in.

Gear Up

Get dressed for the water. Position your mask and snorkel. If you're snorkeling from a boat, put your fins on once you're in the boat. If snorkeling from the shore, try putting them on in waist-deep water. Asthmatics who worry that the shock of cold water will trigger an attack should wear a wetsuit.

Acclimate yourself to the water. Once you're in, let yourself float while you refamiliarize yourself with breathing through a snorkel. Try for relaxed, slow breaths, as if you're lying in a hammock. Don't grip your mouthpiece too hard or you'll get a sore jaw.

Stay within sight of your snorkel buddy or group leader. This is important for anybody, but especially for people with asthma. Practice with your buddy so she is aware of the signs that indicate you're having an asthma attack.

Tips

Try on your mask and practice breathing through your snorkel before you get in the water. This bolsters confidence and cuts down on panic attacks. If you use an inhaler, take it out in the boat with you so it's close by. Snorkeling in a life vest or other buoyancy aid could increase your comfort and ability to relax. If the dry snorkel is not enough to allay your concerns, a product called the Asthma Freedom Snorkel includes asthma medication right in the snorkel.

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