Freedivers Reduce Exposure to COVID-19?
Can we learn to change our breathing patterns to reduce exposure to COVID-19? At one stage or another, all freedivers have tried it: when exposed to a foul smell we hold our breath until we are well clear of the foul smell. Can we apply this method to reducing our exposure to the COVID 19 virus? It appears the major mechanism of transmission is airborne transmission of droplets of water containing the virus sneezed, coughed or even exhaled from an infected person in close proximity (see World Health Organisation Situation Report 73). COVID 19 is an upper respiratory infection. That is, it grows or is replicated in the nose, pharynx and larynx. This is the reason the major method of prevention throughout the world is social distancing and avoiding groups of people especially in confined spaces.
But sooner or later we need to go outside. We need to buy groceries. We walk by people in grocery aisles. Can we train ourselves to change our breathing patterns around these people? As we walk by a person we can hold our breath or even slightly exhale through the nose (remember our noses are better at filtering the air we breathe) to not only reduce the probability of viral exposure but the total viral load. If we are only exposed to a small viral load, our immune systems have a better chance of adapting to the virus and not being overwhelmed. Freedivers know how to control their breath and keep calm and relaxed. We can start to hold our breath as we walk by a person and exhale through our nose when we are well clear. Clearly we need to exhale any air that may have passively entered our airways. This is a simple but could be a very effective exercise in reducing possible exposure to COVID 19.
There is scientific evidence to support this approach with Asthma sufferers being less reactive to cigarette smoke and other airborne irritants using this breathing method. For further information see the blog of world renowned breath scientist Dr Erik Peper.