Q: My mom says you should not swim after meals. Is that true?
A: When we decide to carry out some sport after ingesting a great quantity of food, we might encounter a gastrointestinal problem. Swimming under certain circumstances such as having been out in the sun and then going into the water could sauce a Hydrocusion syndrome which is the loss of consciousness caused by the difference between the body temperature and that of the water, especially when the water is very cold.
When you go into the water the sudden change of temperature causes a contraction of the blood vessels on the skin; the blood is directed to the inner circulation network to reach the vital organs (heart, liver, lungs, brain) and in that case the digestive track, which is in the midst of digestion (once the food reaches the stomach, digestion starts and it might take 2 to 4 hours), it not only alters digestion but it can also cause for it to stop breathing and cause cardiac arrest. The thermal difference is a fundamental factor causing this syndrome, rather than digestion. This is also known as a “digestion interruption.”
It is important to emphasize that, if you have had an abundant ingestion of food, the fact that you are exercising vigorously while swimming might cause you to throw up and as the body reacts in this way in the water, drowning could easily come. This possibility increases if you have had alcoholic beverages.
If you wish to avoid the hydrocusion syndrome, you should be careful not to be too much in the sun, or exercise intensely before swimming, avoid swimming after meals or drinking alcohol. If the water is very cold, go in slowly, so that the body adapts to the new temperature. Ask for help in case you have a feeling of nausea, chills, blurred vision, or buzzing in the ears.
If you are a swimmer, it is important for you to follow the instructions of your coach and also to have a proper nutrition.