DAN Answers Your Questions About Dive Medicine

This site is designed to provide the answers to many common, as well as some less common, questions relating to diving medical issues.

An Introduction

As scuba diving's appeal broadens to all ages, more individuals with some type of health concern are asking about fitness requirements for scuba diving. Many years ago, when physicians trained in diving medicine began discussing recreational scuba fitness requirements, a "model diver" was created.

This model diver was the accumulation of medical expertise, diving physiology and known disease processes. Restrictions to scuba diving include medical conditions and illnesses that might impair or limit a diver's ability to perform underwater.

Unfortunately, very little research data existed to support many of these theoretical restrictions to scuba diving. Now, as it was then, it would be unethical to place individuals at risk of injury just to prove actual risk is less than what we might expect.

Some restrictions have changed over the years, however. For example, 10 years ago, the fear of hypoglycaemia kept any person taking medication for diabetes out of scuba diving. Today, individuals who control their diabetes with oral medication may dive; and perhaps, once DAN's research on diving with diabetes is completed, the scuba training agencies may accept a select group of insulin-requiring persons with diabetes.

There are still prospective and current divers who are going to be advised against diving because of a medical condition, not just because they have a medical problem but because of the severity of their symptoms. In general, any condition that may impair mental or physical performance, induce pain or loss of consciousness, or cause nausea or vomiting must be evaluated before diving. Additionally, there are some medical conditions that may be affected by diving physiology, such as some blood disorders which are sensitive to changes in blood volume.

This site presents some questions that concern chronic and long term illness, as well as short term illness and injury. DAN physicians and others have put together some answers to help explain these medical concerns to divers and their physicians so that, together, they can make an informed decision about scuba diving.

This is one way that we at DAN strive to increase general medical knowledge in the scuba diving community and prevent injuries and deaths related to these medical conditons.

Director DAN America Medical Services

Disclaimer & Important Notice

All divers, diving instructors, diving physicians and those interested in diving first aid should carefully read the following notice.

The information and advice available on this site has been carefully researched by its authors, and is believed to represent the state of learning as at the time of writing. However, knowledge, opinions and practise can vary from time to time, and from place to place. Differing views exist within the diving medical profession about the medical management, understanding and importance of various medical conditions, and on the implications of diving for particular individuals and in particular circumstances.

Any individual who is taking or has taken medication or who may have, or has or has had any particular medical condition should consult a diving physician. Individual susceptibilities and differences are infinitely variable, and the following information and advice is of a general nature.

It does not replace the need for a person to consult with and seek advice from his or her own physician.