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General Guidelines For Medical Fitness To Dive



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If you are considering learning to dive, keep in mind that every dive is different – water and weather conditions vary from dive to dive. You may be required to manoeuvre through strong currents to reach your dive site, or perform a long surface swim at the end of a dive. Divers need to be able to perform unexpected strenuous physical tasks. Also, they should not have any adverse health conditions or be taking any medications that may cause problems while diving.
Pre-dive Physical Examination
It is important that your doctor has an understanding of diving medicine. It is recommended that all first time divers undergo a pre-dive physical examination. However, you should definitely consult a doctor before diving if you suffer from any chronic illnesses, including the following:
• History of heart disease or diabetes
• History of asthma or other lung disease, chest injury or surgery, or shortness of breath
• History of seizures (fits) or unexplained black-outs
• Difficulty equalising the pressure in the ears
No upper age limit for participation in scuba diving exists, provided a diver is fit and healthy and has no disqualifying medical conditions. However, due to the increasing incidence of cardiac-related deaths in older divers, it is recommended that any diver 45 years and above undergo a pre-dive medical assessment.
Diving While On Medication
Let your dive instructor know if you are taking any medication, whether prescribed or not. Most medication will have no effect on diving, but some may cause drowsiness or fatigue, which may increase susceptibility to nitrogen narcosis. Consult your doctor to ascertain your medication will affect your ability to dive.
Some Restrictions on Diving
Some medical conditions will temporarily restrict diving.
1. Cold or flu
With colds or flu, swelling or blockage in the Eustachian tubes or sinuses may prevent adequate equalisation of these air spaces with changes in pressure, resulting in injury to the ears or sinuses called barotrauma.
2. Injuries to joints and muscles
Such injuries may not only reduce diving ability but also increase susceptibility to decompression
illness. Therefore, it is best to postpone diving until the injuries are fully healed.
3. Pregnancy
As little is known about the effects of diving on an unborn child, it is recommended that pregnant women return to diving after pregnancy.
4. Medical conditions that restrict movement of a diver’s arms and legs
These conditions may limit the diver’s mobility in the water.

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