How to Know if You Are Fit to Dive


Free divers, who dive without scuba equipment, obviously need to be really fit to cope with the extremes of their sport, but how fit do you need to be to scuba dive?

Diving stresses

It would seem, judging by the variety of people who go diving, that you don’t need to be fit at all. However, people do suffer heart attacks when diving as a result of putting the body under stress. This stress may be triggered if things go wrong underwater or just by the difficulty of struggling down to the water’s edge with heavy gear. Surface swims or even climbing the ladder of a boat in rough waters also puts strain on the body.

People who are overweight are often passed as fit to dive, but equally often they have medical conditions associated with their physique that mean they cannot dive.

Problem conditions

In the past, people who suffered from asthma were always simply banned from diving, but now medical science differentiates between different forms of the illness. If you are asthmatic, you should check with your doctor about whether you can dive.

Diabetics are disqualified from diving by many of the training agencies but not all. If you are likely to suffer a hypoglycaemic attack, underwater is no place to be. Again, there are different types of diabetes, but if you suffer from it, you should check with your doctor before taking up diving.

Anyone with any form of lung disease or circulatory problem should avoid diving. If you suffer chronic back pain or have recently suffered a back injury, you should be extremely careful when strapping on heavy diving gear.

A fairly large proportion of the population (about 20 per cent) unknowingly has a patent foramen ovale (PFO), also known as a hole in the heart. This genetic condition is suspected as a factor in some cases of decompression illness. However, it can be hazardous to test for and does not necessarily preclude a person from scuba diving. You should check with your doctor if you are concerned about this or any other medical condition.

If you are using any prescribed medication, ask your doctor about any contraindications that might preclude diving.

Pregnancy

It is recommended that women should not dive when pregnant, but there are many cases of such advice being inadvertently ignored. This is because many women divers were unaware that they were in the early stages of pregnancy when they went diving. There has never been any research done on the effects of diving on pregnancy, and no one is prepared to say that it’s safe. If you know you are pregnant, it’s best to avoid diving.

Medical checks

Few doctors are fully aware of the implications of breathing compressed air underwater. As a result, they often err on the side of safety and may preclude someone from the activity who would otherwise be fit and safe to dive. There are medical referees listed by most of the training agencies, and it is best to visit your doctor with a list of these contacts or ask to be referred to one for a full diving medical examination.

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About the Author: Cody Riffel is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo. She likes to write on variety of topics, whatever interests her. She also likes to share what she learns over the Internet and her day-to-day life.

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