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Snorkeling and headaches


Lima November

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Thought of asking this question here, since there are a lot of divers around...

In summer I often went snorkeling, with lots of shallow dives (1-2 m) looking for crab. But these last years, I am running into problems: (1) Water seeps into my mask. I wonder if it is coming in via the space between the hairs of my beard (and no, shaving it off is not an option !) And (2), after each swim I tend to get a blinding headache and stuffed nose, sneezing out watery stuff, which lasts well into the night. It kinda takes the fun out of swimming, so I go less and less. But I miss these trips.

Anyone got some advice, or experienced the same thing? Thanks for your help!

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Vaseline on facial hair can help.

Headaches can be caused by CO2 buildup. In snorkeling, that's usually a result of too much "dead air" in the snorkel. Are you using a new snorkel? Is it bigger in length and diameter than your old snorkel?

Or, if old snorkel that has worked well before, you could be breathing slightly shallower and not pushing all the dead air out.

 

I used to get very bad CO2 headaches diving which was traced to a hooded wetsuit tight around my neck. The tightness very slightly restricted blood flow and the effect was magnified at depth. Not pleasant.

 

The equalising thing is important but if you're never suffered from these headaches before it points to a change in something. Either equipment or age related

I'm assuming you're not a smoker......

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I have never experienced the headache you describe but it is a common symptom of co2 buildup as Ease describes. Snorkel dead air and even prolonged repetitive breath holding can cause co2 retention. I’d guess that is your headache issue. I do sometimes get water in the sinuses like you describe (pretty funny when bend over slightly to do something a water runs out unexpectedly :lol:).This could also contribute to a headache. I’m not sure how that would happen in your case as your nose is covered by the mask unless you are getting significant amounts of water in. So far as solutions the co2 retention issue is equipment adjustments as Ease said, and physiologically you’re talking breathing holding for shorter duration less frequently and pulmonary/cardio fitness. Water in sinuses, try a Netipot but be careful what water you use as there have been rare cases of brain infections from questionable water in the pot. If any doubt use distilled. Mask fit.....Vaseline helps a bit but if you/be got a thick beard with lotsa hair it won’t stop it. Either way you may need a better fitting mask. Masks wear and get “loose”, faces change shape with age. If you put the mask on, close your mouth and inhale through your nose hard and you get lots of air flow in......you need to address mask fit. Dive shop can help.

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All good information. Thanks a lot! I'll look into your suggestions.

There may be a fitness issue. Unlike before, I now have two young children so I am basically in a permanent state of exhaustion. That doesn't help... Also, I am pretty sure that I get water into my nose, so I'll look into the mask and snorkel fit. Finally, I always get blocked ears in airplanes during descent so there may be some issue there as well.

Thanks again!

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Try all the above wrt mask fit, vaseline. But then snorkel without any surface dives. No headache? Then work on pressure equalization.

Still get headache? Are you exhaling HARD through the snorkel or shallowly? Huff out that exhaled air. See if that works.  

 

 

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7 hours ago, Ease the sheet. said:

It's possible to get a mask which is watertight with facial hair.

I've got one. But it took a while to find....

image.thumb.png.842563fb3cbc6d641abaccf5b4bdf1bd.png

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One more suggestion; take a decongestant like Sudafed.  Shrinks the sinus tissues so you're less likely to get blocked, and may help clear you out after diving. 

Or maybe a neti pot.

 

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    The worse I ever experienced was while spearfishing for Cero Mackerel in the VI. I had a 'secret spot' that was a small pinnacle rising out of a sandy bottom about 100' deep. It was right off the end of a rocky key with only about a 50' wide channel between it and the rocky end of the key. For some reason there was always a big 'ball formation' of bait fish just inside the gap from the deeper waters to the north. There was almost always Bar Jack's cruising through to surprise the bait ball and Cero often would be interspersed with the Jacks. The top of the pinnacle, more like a needle was only about 8' across and only about 3' of water over it. I could float quietly at the ready hidden by the pinnacle and pick off the Cero as they swam by but I had to be careful to shoot toward the shallower inside of the gap because I was using a Bahamian sling and the SS shaft would sink to the bottom if I missed. It was only about a 35' free dive to retrieve the spear shaft on the inside but I got fooled into thinking I could take a nice Cero that was still over the deeper side. If I hit a fish it would thrash around on the surface and I could grab it by the spear but this time I missed and the spear took a long glide path out into the much deeper water. I did a bit of hyperventilation pre-breathing to flush out CO2 and headed to the bottom where my spear was sitting on the sand in about 90' of water. My limit was about 100' on a good day so I was doing pretty good when I grabbed my spear and headed back to the surface. I rarely had any problems clearing my ears but on the way down I heard an odd squeak like you hear in your passage from your throat to the inner ear when they clear but there was something different about it. I didn't realise on the way down that I had air squeeze past a loose tooth filling at depth and when I got to about 30' an immediate sharp pain in the nerve in my jawbone felt like an icepick! I stopped and worked my jaw and picked at that tooth with my tongue but I was starting to really hurt for air and had to continue on to the surface despite the pain. It took a couple of minutes of agony to regain my breath and I dove back down and at 20' down the pain went away instantly! Now I could loiter at that depth for a pretty good while so I picked at the filling with a fingernail to no avail before I had to return to the surface to breath once more. The onset of the pain as soon as I got above 15' was instantaneos so it was a real seesaw for the next 10 minutes or so doing these short repetitive freedives but I couldn't keep up with that for long. 

     I finally heard a motorboat approaching and it was my good buddy Diver Bob who I had delivered a couple of his dive boats for and he pulled up wanting to know if I was OK. He had been getting his dive customers back on board just a ways up the key and noticed my antics and wails of pain when on the surface. It was all I could do to tell him 'tooth squeeze' and he looked baffled because that is usually on the way down but he soon realised it was a 'reverse tooth squeeze' and he tossed my a tank and rig and I grabbed it and headed back down to a blissful 20' and checked to see I still had 1000 psi on the tank he had just pulled off of some tourist. He pick up the dive boat mooring and soon joined me and made me go back and forth from the beginning of the pain threshold at about 15' to 30' until I finally heard the hiss of the torturous bubble of air in my root canals leak past the loose filling and I was able to surface. 

     It reminded me of a scene in which the villain in a spy flick is using an electric drill and drilling through James Bond's fillings to get him to talk. Best to go to the dentist before any serious dive vacation. I don't know what I would have done if Bob hadn't happened along when he did!

Barodontalgia, commonly known as tooth squeeze, is a pain in tooth caused by a change in ambient pressure. The pain usually ceases at ground level.[1][2][3] Dental barotrauma is a condition in which such changes in barometric pressure changes cause damage to the dentition.

The most common victims are underwater divers because in deep dives pressures can increase by several atmospheres,[4] and military pilots because of rapid changes.[5][6][7][8] In pilots, barodontalgia may be severe enough to cause premature cessation of flights.[9]

What is tooth squeeze?

 

  • Tooth squeeze occurs during a scuba diving ascent when air is trapped in a dental filling or cavity.
  • As a diver goes deeper under water, air can enter a cavity or dental filling area.
  • As the diver begins to surface that air (or gas) expands and is "trapped" resulting in pain to that area.
  • Pain can occur on descent due to a "vacuum" effect however it is not common.
  • Tooth squeeze is more likely to occur in divers with tooth decay, dental infections, or recent tooth extraction or fillings.

  

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That sounds horribly painful Rasper.  I hate tooth pain and I hate dentists.  Unfortunately the latter leads to the former in a never ending cycle.  I had a fucking sadist for my first dentist as a child.  I didn't know about novacaine until I was a teen.

I think this is the scene you were thinking of, Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier in Marthon Man.  Jump to 7:17 for the really horrible part.

 

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23 minutes ago, Rasputin22 said:

    The worse I ever experienced was while spearfishing for Cero Mackerel in the VI. I had a 'secret spot' that was a small pinnacle rising out of a sandy bottom about 100' deep. It was right off the end of a rocky key with only about a 50' wide channel between it and the rocky end of the key. For some reason there was always a big 'ball formation' of bait fish just inside the gap from the deeper waters to the north. There was almost always Bar Jack's cruising through to surprise the bait ball and Cero often would be interspersed with the Jacks. The top of the pinnacle, more like a needle was only about 8' across and only about 3' of water over it. I could float quietly at the ready hidden by the pinnacle and pick off the Cero as they swam by but I had to be careful to shoot toward the shallower inside of the gap because I was using a Bahamian sling and the SS shaft would sink to the bottom if I missed. It was only about a 35' free dive to retrieve the spear shaft on the inside but I got fooled into thinking I could take a nice Cero that was still over the deeper side. If I hit a fish it would thrash around on the surface and I could grab it by the spear but this time I missed and the spear took a long glide path out into the much deeper water. I did a bit of hyperventilation pre-breathing to flush out CO2 and headed to the bottom where my spear was sitting on the sand in about 90' of water. My limit was about 100' on a good day so I was doing pretty good when I grabbed my spear and headed back to the surface. I rarely had any problems clearing my ears but on the way down I heard an odd squeak like you hear in your passage from your throat to the inner ear when they clear but there was something different about it. I didn't realise on the way down that I had air squeeze past a loose tooth filling at depth and when I got to about 30' an immediate sharp pain in the nerve in my jawbone felt like an icepick! I stopped and worked my jaw and picked at that tooth with my tongue but I was starting to really hurt for air and had to continue on to the surface despite the pain. It took a couple of minutes of agony to regain my breath and I dove back down and at 20' down the pain went away instantly! Now I could loiter at that depth for a pretty good while so I picked at the filling with a fingernail to no avail before I had to return to the surface to breath once more. The onset of the pain as soon as I got above 15' was instantaneos so it was a real seesaw for the next 10 minutes or so doing these short repetitive freedives but I couldn't keep up with that for long. 

     I finally heard a motorboat approaching and it was my good buddy Diver Bob who I had delivered a couple of his dive boats for and he pulled up wanting to know if I was OK. He had been getting his dive customers back on board just a ways up the key and noticed my antics and wails of pain when on the surface. It was all I could do to tell him 'tooth squeeze' and he looked baffled because that is usually on the way down but he soon realised it was a 'reverse tooth squeeze' and he tossed my a tank and rig and I grabbed it and headed back down to a blissful 20' and checked to see I still had 1000 psi on the tank he had just pulled off of some tourist. He pick up the dive boat mooring and soon joined me and made me go back and forth from the beginning of the pain threshold at about 15' to 30' until I finally heard the hiss of the torturous bubble of air in my root canals leak past the loose filling and I was able to surface. 

     It reminded me of a scene in which the villain in a spy flick is using an electric drill and drilling through James Bond's fillings to get him to talk. Best to go to the dentist before any serious dive vacation. I don't know what I would have done if Bob hadn't happened along when he did!

Barodontalgia, commonly known as tooth squeeze, is a pain in tooth caused by a change in ambient pressure. The pain usually ceases at ground level.[1][2][3] Dental barotrauma is a condition in which such changes in barometric pressure changes cause damage to the dentition.

The most common victims are underwater divers because in deep dives pressures can increase by several atmospheres,[4] and military pilots because of rapid changes.[5][6][7][8] In pilots, barodontalgia may be severe enough to cause premature cessation of flights.[9]

What is tooth squeeze?

 

  • Tooth squeeze occurs during a scuba diving ascent when air is trapped in a dental filling or cavity.
  • As a diver goes deeper under water, air can enter a cavity or dental filling area.
  • As the diver begins to surface that air (or gas) expands and is "trapped" resulting in pain to that area.
  • Pain can occur on descent due to a "vacuum" effect however it is not common.
  • Tooth squeeze is more likely to occur in divers with tooth decay, dental infections, or recent tooth extraction or fillings.

  

Oh yeah....that would be worse............

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On 7/3/2019 at 12:33 AM, Lima November said:

Thought of asking this question here, since there are a lot of divers around...

In summer I often went snorkeling, with lots of shallow dives (1-2 m) looking for crab. But these last years, I am running into problems: (1) Water seeps into my mask. I wonder if it is coming in via the space between the hairs of my beard (and no, shaving it off is not an option !) And (2), after each swim I tend to get a blinding headache and stuffed nose, sneezing out watery stuff, which lasts well into the night. It kinda takes the fun out of swimming, so I go less and less. But I miss these trips.

Anyone got some advice, or experienced the same thing? Thanks for your help!

I knew a guy who had that happen after diving, but that was for abalone, but significantly more than 2 meters. He was able to clear going down and had no problems while diving, the problem always cropped up after. 

  Anyway, his doc thought it might a mild variety of a reverse, delayed, nasal squeeze. Higher pressure air being forced into congested nasal cavities under water was being retained in those cavities. It probably didn't help that his place was at about 2000 MSL, and we always drove straight up to his place to clean the catch there too. Anyway the theory was this reverse squeeze resulted in a bit of inflammation, triggering even more congestion.

Right or wrong his suggestion that some pseudo or Afrin nasal spray administered prior to diving seemed to work...for him....(YMMV)    

 

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Thanks for all the info!

I have not yet been able to do a lot of tests, I only checked my mask and there seems to be some air coming in when I inhale, so leaking of water may be a problem.

I'll keep you informed when I discover more.

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I've never had the facial hair fit issue, thank God! I have had sinus issues. Before I did the in-water portion of my cave diving course I got a wicked sinus squeeze from a cheap hotel ac system and couldn't go deeper than 10' under. Horrible pain and extremely frustrating.

I'd stay away from the Sudafed. Clearing your mask by exhaling out your nose to keep the water out of your sinuses. Agree about the co2 snorkel issue.

 

Hell I'd stay away from the snorkling... it just makes you bait! ;)

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Put mask on. Be sure strap is not too tight, that messes with fit. Look in mirror or have someone do a hair check for forehead and side of face hairs caught under seal. Those wick water in. Lift mask slightly and smooth the marionette lines (smile lines) on your face if you have them. 

No snorkel in mouth.

Fill kitchen sink with water (unless you are right near a snorkelable body of water or pool). Stick face under. Do you see drops of water coming in? Or is it flooding in?  Do you see air bubbles in water from sides of mask?

If not, then put snorkel in mouth. Leaks? If so it is how your mouth pooches up and disrupts the lower rim seal. Try adjusting it in your mouth. Be sure you are not smiling. Thst breaks the seal too.

 

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Drugs and diving?

Nor a fan because of potential reverse squeezes.

A acquaintance of mine got stuck in a cave along way from the surface with multiple up and downs during a push.

Had to bust an ear drum on his return. Not ideal.

 

 

As for teeth squeezes, the Brits had a few issues with Lightnings....

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full face snorkel masks are prone to CO2 buildup, which can lead to headaches.  I used one last month and noticed a significant difference in the oxygen exchange.  Better to go with the old style masks.  Won't need to trim your beard either.

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  • 3 weeks later...

First swim of the season today. I tried a smaller snorkel and liberal applications of vaseline. Looked like a bloody walrus but it worked great, no water in my mask, no trouble diving, no headaches. Thanks to you all!

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Thread drift:

Used ‘Jet Fins’ to rehab knee.  Three years later still doing pool laps underwater with them and Gill sailing boots for foot comfort and added weight. Great workout.

Question: do split fins add effort or efficiency versus standard Jet Fins?   How different are the two types?

 

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1 hour ago, blunderfull said:

Thread drift:

Used ‘Jet Fins’ to rehab knee.  Three years later still doing pool laps underwater with them and Gill sailing boots for foot comfort and added weight. Great workout.

Question: do split fins add effort or efficiency versus standard Jet Fins?   How different are the two types?

 

So which fins you choose depends very much on the intended purpose, your kicking style and leg strength. Power comes from length and stiffness. If your kick style is long slow full leg kicks and you want power when needed then longer medium stiff is for you. Split fins are more suited for people who like to flutter kick as it’s the frequency that generates any power. They are much easier to kick but the trade really is power. I am not fond of them. They are worthless for frog kicking or turning/backing as well. I don’t like jet fins either. My kicking preference diving is long full kicking sometimes dolphin style when close to the bottom so I use a medium stiffness/length  Cressi shoe fin for scuba, a pretty flexible longer set for free diving/spear fishing, and very stiff duck feet in the surf. Churchill’s are okay in the surf, I just have always preferred the ducks.

Of course I’m a old guy set in my ways. Your mileage may vary. :lol:

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On 7/7/2019 at 2:10 PM, Rasputin22 said:

    The worse I ever experienced was while spearfishing for Cero Mackerel in the VI. I had a 'secret spot' that was a small pinnacle rising out of a sandy bottom about 100' deep. It was right off the end of a rocky key with only about a 50' wide channel between it and the rocky end of the key. For some reason there was always a big 'ball formation' of bait fish just inside the gap from the deeper waters to the north. There was almost always Bar Jack's cruising through to surprise the bait ball and Cero often would be interspersed with the Jacks. The top of the pinnacle, more like a needle was only about 8' across and only about 3' of water over it. I could float quietly at the ready hidden by the pinnacle and pick off the Cero as they swam by but I had to be careful to shoot toward the shallower inside of the gap because I was using a Bahamian sling and the SS shaft would sink to the bottom if I missed. It was only about a 35' free dive to retrieve the spear shaft on the inside but I got fooled into thinking I could take a nice Cero that was still over the deeper side. If I hit a fish it would thrash around on the surface and I could grab it by the spear but this time I missed and the spear took a long glide path out into the much deeper water. I did a bit of hyperventilation pre-breathing to flush out CO2 and headed to the bottom where my spear was sitting on the sand in about 90' of water. My limit was about 100' on a good day so I was doing pretty good when I grabbed my spear and headed back to the surface. I rarely had any problems clearing my ears but on the way down I heard an odd squeak like you hear in your passage from your throat to the inner ear when they clear but there was something different about it. I didn't realise on the way down that I had air squeeze past a loose tooth filling at depth and when I got to about 30' an immediate sharp pain in the nerve in my jawbone felt like an icepick! I stopped and worked my jaw and picked at that tooth with my tongue but I was starting to really hurt for air and had to continue on to the surface despite the pain. It took a couple of minutes of agony to regain my breath and I dove back down and at 20' down the pain went away instantly! Now I could loiter at that depth for a pretty good while so I picked at the filling with a fingernail to no avail before I had to return to the surface to breath once more. The onset of the pain as soon as I got above 15' was instantaneos so it was a real seesaw for the next 10 minutes or so doing these short repetitive freedives but I couldn't keep up with that for long. 

     I finally heard a motorboat approaching and it was my good buddy Diver Bob who I had delivered a couple of his dive boats for and he pulled up wanting to know if I was OK. He had been getting his dive customers back on board just a ways up the key and noticed my antics and wails of pain when on the surface. It was all I could do to tell him 'tooth squeeze' and he looked baffled because that is usually on the way down but he soon realised it was a 'reverse tooth squeeze' and he tossed my a tank and rig and I grabbed it and headed back down to a blissful 20' and checked to see I still had 1000 psi on the tank he had just pulled off of some tourist. He pick up the dive boat mooring and soon joined me and made me go back and forth from the beginning of the pain threshold at about 15' to 30' until I finally heard the hiss of the torturous bubble of air in my root canals leak past the loose filling and I was able to surface. 

     It reminded me of a scene in which the villain in a spy flick is using an electric drill and drilling through James Bond's fillings to get him to talk. Best to go to the dentist before any serious dive vacation. I don't know what I would have done if Bob hadn't happened along when he did!

Barodontalgia, commonly known as tooth squeeze, is a pain in tooth caused by a change in ambient pressure. The pain usually ceases at ground level.[1][2][3] Dental barotrauma is a condition in which such changes in barometric pressure changes cause damage to the dentition.

The most common victims are underwater divers because in deep dives pressures can increase by several atmospheres,[4] and military pilots because of rapid changes.[5][6][7][8] In pilots, barodontalgia may be severe enough to cause premature cessation of flights.[9]

What is tooth squeeze?

 

  • Tooth squeeze occurs during a scuba diving ascent when air is trapped in a dental filling or cavity.
  • As a diver goes deeper under water, air can enter a cavity or dental filling area.
  • As the diver begins to surface that air (or gas) expands and is "trapped" resulting in pain to that area.
  • Pain can occur on descent due to a "vacuum" effect however it is not common.
  • Tooth squeeze is more likely to occur in divers with tooth decay, dental infections, or recent tooth extraction or fillings.

  

Back in my active days 50'-75' start of the day  free diving spearfishing I'd always take a Contact the night before and never know what my dive day would be like. I had to equalize on every dive, I've had blood in my mask, tooth pain general sinus pain never stopped me from the next trip to the bottom. The tooth squeeze does make it feel like your tooth is about to explode but fortunately goes away as quickly as it came after a few cycles  and doesn't reoccur once you go through it a few times on the same day....I finally had sinus surgery about 5 years ago, something I should have had decades ago 

IMG_0005.jpg

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11 hours ago, Point Break said:

So which fins you choose depends very much on the intended purpose, your kicking style and leg strength. Power comes from length and stiffness. If your kick style is long slow full leg kicks and you want power when needed then longer medium stiff is for you. 

Thx.   I need a bigger pool.   25 yd. pool & longer fins prolly not practical.  

If I increase the effort (full extension strokes) I get more burn.   The side kick the Coasties/Seals use is a good workout.

I do all laps @ 80% max effort, most underwater on one breathe.  Dolphin for core work is addictive.  Great stroke.

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The black UDT Duck Feet were the fins the best free divers used in my neck of the woods 1960’s... very stiff... now the state of the free diving art (actually science now) the best use very long flexible fins 

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6 hours ago, Max Rockatansky said:

Wife has bad knee, she was recommended Mares Volo Race, and has literally worn them out. She likes to polespear.

 

 

18AA64F0-726C-46C1-B1DD-A51A7C1ABAED.jpeg

My buddy has those fins, they are very light. I swapped with him once and its a very nice fin.

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24 minutes ago, BravoBravo said:

The black UDT Duck Feet were the fins the best free divers used in my neck of the woods 1960’s... very stiff... now the state of the free diving art (actually science now) the best use very long flexible fins 

I wore out a pair of those. Literally. The back straps finally shit the bed. I was pretty depressed about it. I was issued those and stole them from Uncle Sam. If the FBI is listening.........just kidding.........

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12 minutes ago, blunderfull said:

The Scuba Pro spring straps for my Jet Fins are the shit.

Well..........this was after about 25 years in and out of the salt water and sun so I can't be too critical.........:lol:

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