If you haven’t tried scuba diving before, the idea of strapping a tank of compressed air to your back and diving underwater may probably, quite understandably, sound a bit alarming.
It’s quite natural to have concerns and be interested to know if there are any adverse health effects of scuba diving.
As well as the risks, this article will show you how to avoid them and let you in on some of the benefits scuba diving has to offer.
You will see that so long as you follow the training, dive sensibly within your limits, and pay attention to maintaining your general health and fitness, that no, recreational scuba diving isn’t bad for your health.
On the contrary, it can be wonderfully enjoyable and even good for you.
Is scuba diving dangerous?
It depends what kind of diving you’re doing. As far as recreational scuba diving is concerned, it is incredibly safe. The reason why scuba diving as a whole is considered an extreme sport is because deep sea diving, wreck diving, cave diving, drift diving, and various other advanced types of diving are all included within that term.
Even as a whole, scuba diving has an exceptional safety record. Considering millions of dives are conducted each year, fatalities unfortunately do occur occasionally. However, what leads to a death is typically due to diver error.
Newbie divers are more likely to panic when something unexpected happens and ascend quickly to the surface. They are also less experienced to deal with equipment malfunctions such as a free-flowing regulator or a dive computer dying.
Sometimes a diver forgets to check their pressure gauge and finds that they are running dangerously low on breathing gas. Another common mistake is to exceed one’s depth limits which puts them at greater risk of decompression sickness and running out of breathing gas faster
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In rare cases, divers will deliberately dive beyond their depth limits because they think they are being daredevils, but in reality, they are jeopardizing their safety for no reason. Most of the time the mistake was accidental, caused by unforeseen circumstances.
There is also the risk of a medical emergency happening underwater. Whenever a diver loses their life due to an undetected medical condition, it’s always a tragedy. To reduce the likelihood of this occurring, divers are asked to fill out a medical form. Depending on their answers, they may be asked to be medically cleared by a doctor before they are allowed to dive.
What are the risks of scuba diving
DCS is probably the most commonly talked about diving-related injury. When you breathe compressed air at depth, your body tissues will absorb extra nitrogen. When you resurface, if your tissues have absorbed too much nitrogen, the reduction in pressure can cause that nitrogen to create nitrogen bubbles inside your tissues. This is decompression sickness, or the bends. It causes a lot of pain, and, if untreated, and result in nerve and other tissue damage, and even death.
DCS is mostly preventable by carefully following dive tables and computers, properly ascending at a slow rate, and performing the standard safety stop. However, there are a lot of factors that contribute to DCS, including dehydration, physical fitness, amount of sleep, alcohol and other drug use, and stress. It’s important that you dive well within the safe limits you learn in your training, and that you take good care of your body to prevent DCS. You should not assume you are immune just because you followed your tables or dive computer. If you begin to exhibit symptoms of DCS, you should take it seriously and get treatment right away.
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Arterial Air Embolism
An arterial embolism is a blockage of an artery. This can happen to a diver when bubbles form in an artery on ascent and block the blood-flow. Usually, this is the result of pulmonary barotrauma, or damage to the lungs as a result of differences in the ambient pressure and the pressure in the lungs. For example, if a diver holds his or her breath while ascending, the air inside the lungs will expand and can cause serious or even fatal damage to the lungs.
This is rare but preventable through proper training and careful diving.
Nitrogen narcosis is a feeling of drunkenness or giddiness that divers feel at deeper depths, usually around 80-100 feet in saltwater. While not directly damaging, nitrogen narcosis causes temporary reduction in reasoning, decision making, and motor coordination. This can lead to poor decisions by the diver, resulting in DCS or other problems. Nitrogen narcosis is one of the reasons that diving beyond 60 feet requires additional training after your first certification.
Learn diving properly
Scuba diving involves some inherent risks, and because of these risks it requires special training. In fact, ethical dive shops will not sell or rent equipment to someone who does not hold a certification from a recognized agency. When you arrive at a dive operator’s shop to go on a dive, they will require you to show your certification card and, occasionally, a log showing how many dives you have completed.
So, how do you get this certification? Most dive operations also provide instruction, using a curriculum developed by one of the major certification agencies like The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). For a fee of around 12 000 THB to 20 000 THB, depending on location and whether or not your certification dives are included, you will get class room and pool training resulting in your certification. The certification can be used anywhere in the world, and never expires, although it’s recommended that you take a short “refresher” course if it’s been more than six months since your last dive. Find the details of our Similan Open Water Course.
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What Are the Side Effects of Scuba Diving?
There are no specific known side effects caused by recreational scuba diving, except perhaps the financial expense caused by falling in love with what can be a costly hobby.
However, as with any more extreme activity, there are risks of injury associated with scuba diving that we can discuss.
Scuba diving has an excellent safety record, and serious medical problems are not common, given the millions of dives carried out each year worldwide.
When incidents do unfortunately happen, it is often the case that an error on the divers part causes them.
It may not have been a foreseen error, caused by deliberate negligence.
After all, accidents can happen without fault, or it can be that problematic, undetected underlying medical conditions can also cause them.
Whether caused by deliberate action or by complete accident, injury risks exist in diving and need to be understood to safely partake in the activity.
In the absence of an existing medical condition, most incidents can be avoided by diving carefully and staying well within the divers’ training and experience limits.