Thought for the Day

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

S.I.P.E. at Mountain Man?

Anne Findlay, one of my Triabetes teammates, suggested that what happened to me at the Mountain Man Sprint Triathlon may have been SIPE, swimming-induced pulmonary edema. After reading about it on Anne's blog and SlowTwitch.com, I think that's a strong possibility.
The idea that the lack of oxygen would affect me like that just didn't make sense to me. I have run several races in the Flagstaff area, including the Flagstaff Marathon, which tops out at over 8600 feet in elevation, and I never felt anything like I did trying to run that 5K at Lake Mary, about 7000 ft.
However, SIPE would explain what happened in the swim, and my weakness for the rest of the day, especially when trying to run. I didn't have the worst symptoms of SIPE, but mild congestion in my lungs combined with the natural effects of altitude provides a good explanation of what happened.
And if I know what happened, I know some things I can do about it:
I can start taking an ACE inhibitor, which can strengthen my capillaries. These are often prescribed for diabetics as a precautionary measure, to protect the kidneys.
I can get more time practicing swimming in my wet suit which I just purchased.
I can make sure I'm warmed up before I start swimming hard.
I can avoid taking electrolyte tablets and drinking a lot of water until after I finish the swim. This may not be the standard advice, but it can help with this problem of pulmonary edema.

Just one more thing to think about and be prepared for.

3 comments:

Anne said...

how's your blood pressure, typically? I'm glad you got some info. I don't think it has to be a big concern, and I think, for me, acclimating to the swim conditions + wetsuit really helps, as well as warming up and staying relaxed. Having a proper fit for a wetsuit is really important, as well. I don't know if that could have any relation to SIPE, though.

jpnairn said...

My BP is always good, Anne.
As for fitting, the one I rented felt tight, but I thought that's how they're supposed to fit. The one I ordered is the same size, M. That should fit someone up to 3 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than me.
It should be good. But like I said, it feels tight.

PJ said...

Just a note to be careful with the Ace Inhibitors. I was on one (the precautionary kidney thing) and they caused all sorts of problems with hydration and electrolyte balance. I was getting a ton of cramps despite hydrating a lot and didn't really attribute it to anything until I read somewhere that the pills can mess with you that way. I stopped taking them and I haven't had a problem since.

Like Anne said, I'd give yourself some time to get used to the wetsuit, etc. first.