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Scuba Diving with Asthma

Submitted by admin on 2011-01-17

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If you suffer from asthma, then there are likely many activities that you have had to refrain from in your lifetime. This can be discouraging especially if you are an adventurous type of person. Scuba diving with asthma is not impossible, but there are some guidelines that you need to follow to determine whether it is a choice that is right for you. Read on to learn that guidelines to diving when you have asthma.

Definition of Asthma

Asthma is a condition that causes the airways in your lungs to become blocked, which makes you unable to get air into the lungs and breathe properly. The blockage can occur because of inflammation in the airways or the build-up of a mucous coating.

When the airways become blocked, an asthma attack will occur and will cause wheezing, shortness of breath, pain in the chest and could lead to worse symptoms and even death if the individual does not receive help through the use of an inhaler or other means.

How Can Diving Effect Asthma

When you are thinking of scuba diving with asthma, you need to consider the risks associated with it and how diving can affect your asthma. The main danger that an individual may suffer underwater is that an asthma attack will occur and that they will not be able to use an inhaler to get relief.

If an attack were to occur when scuba diving with asthma, the air that is trapped in the lungs would begin to expand as you head back to the surface. If you were not able to somehow relieve that pressure, then the trapped air could burst your lung.

There are a few things that can actually trigger an attack while diving. Dry and cool air are two things that can trigger an asthma attack. As the air is compressed and stored in the tank, it is dried and becomes dried air, which could irritate the airways and cause an attack. Similarly, the air in the tank is stored at a very high pressure. When the air flows down to the regulator once released, it cools significantly and can cause am attack.

For those who are on their first dive or find themselves in distress in the water, an asthma attack can be triggered by the stress. Breathing in particles from the saltwater or freshwater is also a common cause of an attack when scuba diving with asthma.

Is it Possible to go Scuba Diving with Asthma?

There is no definitive answer as to whether you can scuba dive when you have asthma or not. There are tests that can be performed by your doctor to determine your level of fitness and ability to deal with your asthma while diving. While these tests can help you make an educated decision, the risk is put into your own hands. Ideally, for you to scuba dive when you suffer from asthma, you should not have had any attacks or used any asthma medication within the last five years. You should also be able to successfully complete the entire breathing portion of the dive training class with no problems.

Understanding the risks associated with scuba diving with asthma is important if you want to be sure you are making the right decision for your health. The information above can help you better understand what you face when you suffer from asthma and want to learn to scuba dive, but you should always check with your doctor before making any final decisions.


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I find ths article a little incorect as I am a long term asthma sufferer and a P.a.d.i Master Scuba Diver. I have a form of asthma called brittle asthma and I take two forms of medication for this daily. Yes I appreciate the complications of this condition whilst diving but you don't need to have not used medication for five years before deciding to take up diving, thats not the advise I was given by my local diving medical referee when I took up diving three years ago, who advised over a short period of time for me to change some of the medication I was on and this enabled me to start my diver training after a sports diver medical. After 68 dives I am just starting my divemaster training and have had no i'll effects even after diving in very cold conditons recently. Most people who have asthma will know what triggers their asthma so should be able, if they want to dive have a good insight into whether they would be able to cope with this activity, my advise would be to seek advice of a diving medical referee to support and advise you.

catt (asthma sufferer and MSD)

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