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February 21, 2016

Cold Shock Response | Dangers and Training

Cold Shock Response is the physiological response of organisms to sudden cold—in this case humans and cold water.

Immediate symptoms of Cold Shock Response can include: Original gasp for air, Hyperventilation, and Heart Attack.

The shock of cold water causes involuntary inhalation; people often take this initial gasp while entering the water.  Alongside the initial gasp, hyperventilation can cause a person to take a deadly amount of water into their lungs.  Both symptoms can cause drowning or near drowning.

Heart Attacks caused by Cold Shock Response can occur due to vasoconstriction.  

When your blood vessels narrow, due to contractions from the muscular walls in the blood vessels, the heart becomes overworked.  Attempting to move the same volume of blood, with significantly less space, can lead to cardiac arrest.  This is more common in people suffering from Heart Disease.

Some humans are better capable of surviving Cold Shock Response than others depending on body fat and physical fitness.  Cold water swimmers are known to train for cold water shock by exposing themselves to ten degree celsius waters in the shower for three-minute periods.  Repeating this process daily for even six days can reduce the risk of shock symptoms up to twenty percent.  Further, daily, three-minute exposures will lower risk even more drastically.  Being in good physical and mental shape is an important aspect when considering risk factors.

Cold Shock Response is commonly written off as Hypothermia; though, hypothermia is not a sudden happening- taking thirty minutes to be truly deadly.  A person would literally need to be in the water for thirty minutes to die of hypothermia induced from water immersion, no matter how cold the water is.

This article is meant to educate the Cliff Jumping Community about the symptoms of Cold Shock Response and how to combat these deadly effects.  Especially regarding the sport of Cliff Jumping.

 Source material used came from:  Wikipedia, Mayo Clinic, American Heart Association and MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.