Share The LOVE

Risks to Avoid After Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is an incredible adventure that allows you to explore the mysterious and captivating underwater world. While it’s an exciting and fulfilling activity, it’s crucial to prioritize safety and be aware of the potential risks associated with diving. This is why you should always get diving insurance before you dive or go on holiday.

One of the most common risks is decompression sickness (DCS), which can have severe consequences if not addressed promptly. This article will delve into 11 crucial things you should avoid after scuba diving to minimize the likelihood of developing DCS and ensure your diving experiences remain safe and enjoyable.

Flying or Traveling to High Altitudes

Flying or traveling to high altitudes immediately after diving can increase the risk of decompression sickness (DCS). When you’re diving, your body absorbs nitrogen, which can form bubbles in your tissues and bloodstream. If you travel to a high altitude soon afterward, the decrease in atmospheric pressure can cause these bubbles to expand and potentially cause DCS.

Waiting at least 12-24 hours after your last dive before flying or traveling to high altitudes allows your body ample time to off-gas nitrogen, which reduces the risk of DCS. It’s important to remember that the risk of DCS increases with altitude, so it’s best to avoid high-altitude activities even after waiting for 24 hours.

Don’t Engage in Strenuous Exercise

Strenuous exercise can increase blood flow and nitrogen release, increasing the risk of DCS after diving. After a dive, it’s essential to give your body time to recover and eliminate excess nitrogen. By engaging in strenuous exercise, you increase the amount of nitrogen in your blood, which can lead to the formation of bubbles and increase the risk of DCS.

Allow yourself a rest period of at least 24 hours before participating in physically demanding activities like running, cycling, or lifting weights. This rest period allows your body to off-gas nitrogen and recover from the dive, reducing the risk of DCS.

Steer Clear of Alcohol and Dehydrating Beverages

Alcohol and other dehydrating beverages can impair your body’s ability to off-gas nitrogen effectively, increasing the risk of DCS after diving. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, increasing urine production leading to dehydration. Dehydration impairs your body’s ability to off-gas nitrogen, increasing the risk of DCS. So try and wait a few hours before having a beverage at least.

Refrain from Hiking, Climbing, or anything at a higher elevation

Engaging in hiking, climbing, or any high-altitude endeavours can heighten the risk of DCS following a dive. At higher elevations, reduced atmospheric pressure can cause nitrogen absorbed during your dive to form bubbles within your tissues and bloodstream. These bubbles can lead to DCS, which can potentially be life-threatening.

For instance, after a dive, it’s wise to avoid hiking to a mountain peak, climbing a rock wall, or participating in high-altitude sports like skiing for at least 24 hours. Allowing your body this time helps in off-gassing nitrogen and significantly lowers the risk of DCS.

Don’t Dive Again Too Soon

Diving again too soon can increase the risk of DCS because your body hasn’t had enough time to off-gas nitrogen from the previous dive. If you plan to dive multiple times, allowing adequate surface intervals between dives is crucial. This ensures that your body has enough time to off-gas the nitrogen absorbed during previous dives, reducing the risk of DCS. Consult your dive computer or dive tables for recommended surface intervals based on your dive profiles. It’s essential to follow these recommended surface intervals to ensure your safety and prevent DCS.

Avoid Tight Clothing or Accessories

Tight clothing or accessories can restrict blood flow, hindering your body’s ability to off-gas nitrogen effectively after diving. When wearing a wetsuit, it’s easy to forget that your body is still in its natural state. After diving, it’s best to wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid tight accessories like watches or belts to allow for proper circulation.

Steer Clear of Saunas and Hot Tubs

Saunas and hot tubs can cause blood vessels to dilate, increasing the risk of DCS after scuba diving. Similar to hot baths and showers, saunas and hot tubs can cause nitrogen bubbles to form in your tissues and bloodstream, leading to DCS. It’s best to avoid these environments for at least 24 hours after your dive to ensure your body has sufficient time to off-gas nitrogen and reduce the risk of DCS.

Don’t Ignore the Symptoms of DCS

Experiencing symptoms like joint pain, dizziness, nausea, or shortness of breath after diving may indicate the presence of DCS. Disregarding these symptoms could result in severe complications and even prove fatal. It’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention and inform healthcare providers about your recent diving activities.

For example, if you notice a sharp pain in your shoulders or knees, feel disoriented or lightheaded, or have difficulty breathing within the first few hours of diving, promptly consult a medical professional. Early intervention can help mitigate the severity of DCS and enhance your chances of a complete recovery. Proactively addressing potential DCS symptoms ensures a safer and more enjoyable diving experience.

Stay Hydrated

Maintaining proper hydration is essential in minimizing the risk of DCS. To keep your body well-hydrated, drink ample water before, during, and after your dive. Adequate hydration assists your body in off-gassing nitrogen effectively, subsequently reducing the chances of DCS. Conversely, dehydration can hinder your body’s nitrogen off-gassing ability, increasing the likelihood of DCS.

Aim to drink at least 16 ounces of water an hour before your dive, periodically sip water during your dive (if feasible), and consume another 16 ounces of water within 30 minutes post-dive. Additionally, consider consuming electrolyte-rich beverages like coconut water or sports drinks (e.g., Gatorade) to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance.

Staying well-hydrated can significantly decrease the chances of developing DCS after diving and ensure a safer diving experience.

No Massages

Avoid massages post-dive as they can lead to an increased blood flow, potentially resulting in nitrogen bubble formation within your tissues and bloodstream, thus raising the risk of DCS. To ensure your body has ample time to off-gas nitrogen and minimize DCS chances, it is highly recommended to refrain from massages for a minimum of 24 hours following a dive.

Do Not Freedive

Freediving is a popular activity for scuba divers but can increase the risk of decompression sickness. When you freedive, you’re exposed to increased pressure, which can cause nitrogen bubbles to form in your tissues and bloodstream. It’s best to avoid freediving after scuba diving for 12 to 24 hours depending on how many dives in your depths of those dies. Ensure you give your body enough time to off-gas the nitrogen before freediving.

In Summary

It’s essential to prioritize safety and take necessary precautions to avoid decompression sickness. By following the guidelines mentioned above and avoiding the 11 crucial activities after diving, you can significantly reduce your risk of DCS and ensure that your diving experiences remain safe and enjoyable. Always remember to follow your training guidelines, stay well-hydrated, and give your body the time it needs to recover after each dive. Doing so allows you to continue to explore the fascinating underwater world with confidence and peace of mind. Happy diving!

Written By: