Can You Scuba Dive If You Have Asthma?

Last Updated: December 14, 2021

Amongst all the restrictions and problems that come with asthma, one of them might be a denial from pursuing an activity like scuba diving.

Asthma is a condition that occurs when the air passages of the lungs become narrow and restricted because of inflammation. The symptoms can range from cold, shortness of breath, to the tightness of the chest muscles. Meaning, the person has to struggle to inhale and exhale.

Breathing underwater is already quite a task, and even professional scuba divers might need supervision when it comes to a perfect experience in the deep waters.

So, it is natural that asthma sufferers, who are far more sensitive to breathing issues, might face numerous other problems.

Keep reading to find out if you can go scuba diving with asthma.

Is Diving with Asthma Dangerous?

The most professionally trained divers also face problems in the water. The reasons for this are several, the major ones being the effects of immersion and higher gas density.

Did you know that 33 feet underwater, even the experienced and highly trained divers have a breathing capacity of about 70%? Make the depth 100 feet, and the breathing capacity drops down to a mere 50%.

So, if non-asthmatic people can gasp for breaths down there, it is obvious that people with asthma might face much more difficulties. So, yes, diving with asthma is dangerous.

Asthma patients would not be able to meet the breathing requirements. Furthermore, the patient could suffer a lung rupture if gas becomes trapped in the lungs while underwater. So, should you not dive with asthma?

To be practical, it depends on how sensitive your asthma is. If you think you might get triggered with the cold water, seawater, or even when exercising you cannot take a couple of peaceful breaths, in such a case, it surely is a bad idea.

If you are confident about yourself and your doctor gives you the all-clear, you may explore the blue world down there.

What do Professionals Recommend?

Diving is not advisable if your asthma gets triggered by cold water, seawater or exercise. Diving can be a tedious task for asthma sufferers as it requires constant exercise in swimming.

Secondly, the tank air is cold and dry. Asthma patients might get anxious as such air might irritate lungs. Not to mention the risk of asthma attacks caused by salty seawater that you might inhale while breathing in the tank air.

All this just means it depends on your condition and what your doctor has to say about it, so always consult before taking any step. The doctor might ask you detailed questions to help you make a wise and informed decision that best favors your health condition.

Why Asthmatics Shouldn’t Scuba Dive

When you dive into the water, your heart, lungs, and blood vessels have to adapt to the fluctuating pressure, which is prone to change according to depths.

That is exactly why it takes years for professional divers to master the underwater adaptation and, of course, the ascent and descent speeds.

Can asthmatics learn all this? Yes, asthmatics can master all these skills as all the divers face these problems. It is just that the risk of unfortunate incidents drastically increases if you are asthmatic.

Risks asthmatic people might face while scuba diving:

  • Physical exertion and cold water might trigger asthma attacks
  • Loss in pulmonary function
  • Bronchospasm: This refers to the unexpected narrowing or tightening of the airways
  • Pneumothorax: A collapsed lung, caused when air leaks between lungs and chest wall
  • Pulmonary barotrauma: Lung injury caused by air pressure
  • Pneumomediastinum: Air escapes from the lungs to the chest cavity
  • Arterial gas embolism: Air bubbles in a blood vessel or heart

Asthma Stress Test

This test is the best way to understand how prepared you are for diving with asthma. Every little detail that could affect an asthmatic person is recreated to test your capabilities.

You will get an air tank, and you must inhale the cold and dry compressed air from the tank while pedaling a stationary bike. The test might trigger you, which will come as a warning sign from your body.

Before and after lung tests, check the level and the changes that might occur. Post this test, the professionals and your doctor will brief you about your health condition and your ability or inability to scuba dive.

Final Thoughts

So, can you scuba dive with asthma? If we are talking about possibilities, yes, you can. However, it entirely depends on you and your doctor, and of course, your health condition.

Suppose you pass the asthma stress test, and your doctor allows you to dive. In that case, you should definitely give it a try and see the breathtaking marine world, but with all safety and precautionary measures provided by the instructor and your doctor.

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