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Scuba Diving : Articles : Scuba Diving Safety : Risky Conditions and Side Effects

Risky Conditions and Side Effects

Submitted by admin on 2009-04-17 | Last Modified on 2010-04-07

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Scuba diving can be defined as swimming under water at various depths. Diving up to a depth of 130 feet is considered as recreational or sport diving. The pressure generated by the water column around the diver could influence general body functions. However, if you take certain precautions and adhere to all diving rules, scuba diving can be a safe, pleasurable experience. Unfortunately there are certain medical conditions that will prevent a diver to continue diving.

Limitations due to side effects of scuba diving

  • People with the following conditions are generally strongly advised to avoid scuba diving.
  • Even healthy individuals experience breathing problems when remaining under water for longer periods of time. That is why people with pulmonary troubles are not allowed to dive, even with the right safety measures and scuba equipment.
  • The same rule applies to anyone with cardiovascular problems. Diving affects the circulatory system and heart functions; therefore it is a serious threat to people with heart conditions and who have undergone heart bypass surgery.
  • Pregnant women are advised not to scuba dive, due to the complications that could arise from the high pressure. Possible injuries to the baby are also a big factor.
  • Similarly, persons with inherent metabolic troubles, ear, nose & throat (ENT) issues, behavioral health problems, drug users, people who are easily fatigued, obese individuals, and intoxicated people are advised to avoid scuba diving.

Risks in scuba diving for healthy divers.

Decompression sickness, commonly known as bends, is the most common risk in scuba diving. Decompression is the process by which the ambient pressure of the body is balanced with the higher pressure under water. When the pressurized nitrogen gas builds up in the body, its release is sometimes trapped as bubbles in the blood and body tissues. This could cause extreme discomfort, disorientation, brain damage, heart attacks, dysfunction of the spinal cord, damage to lungs, and could lead to death. When the bubbles travel to the brain, the condition is known as an arterial gas embolism.

Apart from the major problems outlined above, minor medical problems include middle ear ‘squeeze’ that causes pain in the ears due to the difference in the pressure. Cuts, injuries, and scrapes on the body due to contact with marine animals, coral reefs, sharp rocks, metal parts of ship wrecks, and fishing lines are also common for divers. A malfunction in scuba gear or being unable to manage your air supply properly, can lead to the diver drowning.

One of the biggest side effects of scuba diving is Hypothermia. Hypothermia is when the body temperature dips sharply to an extremely low level, below the requirements for normal metabolism and bodily functions. This usually occurs in cold waters or at extreme depths. Shivering, amnesia, and irrational behavior are betraying signs of this condition. Hypothermia can lead to brain damage, lung hemorrhage, and death.

We recommend all potential divers to discuss scuba diving and side effects with qualified medical practitioners. Experienced divers must go for regular checkups to ensure that they are fit to dive.

To ensure safe scuba diving, adhere to all diving rules and take all possible precautions. In doing so, you will ensure a safe, pleasurable diving experience, without any harmful side effects, for you and your family.


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3 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

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I was diving in roatan, doing 3 dives a day. On one of the evenings after diving, I noticed flashing white, brigth spots out of the corner of my eye.. has this condtion ever been reported?
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I was diving in Dubai and when I came up I threw up. Then I could not walk in a straight line most of the day. There is a loud ringing in my right ear a week later. Should I go to a decompression chamber?
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the loud ringing and not able to walk straight means you probably got some water in and around your ear drum OR you have an ear infection.

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