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Can I Scuba Dive with Asthma?

Nine million Americans take part in scuba diving each and every year.  With this amount of people taking part in the sport, it’s likely you know somebody who scuba dives and have been curious about having a go yourself.  However, with the act of scuba…
Can I Scuba Dive with Asthma?

Nine million Americans take part in scuba diving each and every year.  With this amount of people taking part in the sport, it’s likely you know somebody who scuba dives and have been curious about having a go yourself.  However, with the act of scuba diving literally replacing your normal air source with a tank based air supply, is it safe to scuba dive when you also suffer from asthma?  That is what we are going to look at in this article.

In the Past…

Historically, it was believed that scuba diving was unsafe for those with asthma.  This was due to a number of reasons, including the fact that an asthmatic’s airway can get constricted when in high adrenaline situations, and the fact that the denser air makes it harder to breathe the deeper you go.  However, now it is believed that those with asthma can scuba dive providing that they take the right precautions.

Diving Eligibility

Anyone with asthma who wants to go scuba diving should be asked to have a medical in which it will be determined whether or not they are fit to dive.  A few of the things that will be considered in the medical are described below:

  • Lung function – the doctor will perform a number of tests to see how well your lungs are functioning.  Those with mild cases of asthma may be completely fine to dive.
  • History of attacks – the doctor will ask you when your last asthma attack was and how frequently you have them.  It is not recommended for anyone who has had an attack within the last 48 hours to dive.
  • Triggers – if your asthma is brought on by physical activity, you probably won’t be allowed to dive.  However, if it is caused by something like pollen or allergies, you will be allowed to dive as this won’t pose a risk when under water.

Training

While every new scuba diver will need to go through a period of training before they can enter an open water environment, those with asthma may need to take some extra steps.  It’s a good idea to tell your instructor about your asthma before your training so that they can monitor you and make sure you feel safe at all times.  They may be able to ensure your first open water experience is in shallow waters so that you are not dangerously far from the surface too.

You may also want to look into having some respiration therapy (find out more at bestrespiratorytherapyprograms.com) and see if you can take any steroid based medication that will help control your asthma as well.  Your doctor or respiratory therapist will be able to advise you on this.

Just because you have asthma this does not necessarily mean you will be unable to scuba dive.  The best thing you can do is to speak to an instructor and your doctor and ask for their advice.  Remember to take things slow and easy and get the proper training before you dive.

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