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Diving with asthma?

Discussion in 'Diving Medicine' started by PILMAN, Feb 12, 2012.


    PILMAN Angel Fish

    Well I went down to Bogota Colombia and went to the hospital for multiple issues, turned out I have gallstones and also possible asthma. The doctor said my lung on the right side was more compressed or something to that effect and said that the pressure in bogota maybe causing my lungs to not function as normal as they would when I am in Florida. Doctor gave me some medication for my lungs, I ended up going to San Andres (island in the carribbean owned by Colombia) and went scuba diving, I felt fine except I had to cough a lot but my lungs felt ok. Since I have been back in Florida, now the doctors are saying that they are also concerned the possibility I could have asthma which was never a issue previously. I went to get testing which I will get the results on Tuesday. I have dived a few times before but I am currently not certified. I am worried this will disqualify me from certification, is there anything serious I should be concerned about regarding asthma? I generally feel fine on dives.
  2. DuboisP

    DuboisP Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Amiens, France
    in France, we caracterize asthma with 4 levels
    1) asthma crisis are rare. you don't take regurlarly drug (as salbutamol, aka ventoline), and your last crisis is at least 3 week old. you can dive
    2, 3 and 4) forget to dive.

    asthmatic (no more since he quit the family house, or only when drinking too much and smoking)
  3. Bubbletrubble

    Bubbletrubble Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Seussville
    Just because you seemed to "feel fine" on your previous dive experiences doesn't necessarily mean that you should be diving.

    FWIW, in the U.S., asthma is not necessarily a contraindication for scuba diving. Asthma occurs with varying degrees of severity and may have different triggers (pollen, cold air, exercise). A scuba diver may be exposing himself to one or more of these triggers while scuba diving. It's best to educate yourself about your condition in order to make an informed decision with regard to pursuing scuba certification.

    Perhaps the best advice is to schedule an appointment with a respiratory specialist who is familiar with dive medicine. Divers Alert Network (DAN; 1-800-446-2671 or +1-919-684-2948, Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. EST) can give you a referral if you like. FYI, most scuba instructional agencies will ask you to get medically cleared by a physician prior to beginning a basic OW class, particularly if you disclose a past history of asthma.

    You should know that an asthmatic assumes increased risk while diving. Without getting into too much detail, an asthmatic diver may be at increased risk of pulmonary barotrauma -- and all the bad things that can potentially arise from it (arterial gas embolism, pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum).

    Read this essay entitled Asthma & Diving on the Divers Alert Network website.

    DAN has also posted this pertinent Asthma FAQ on its website.
    vincent54 likes this.
  4. sheeper

    sheeper Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States
    i've said it before....i'll keep saying it. If you have asthma you MUST get checked by a pulmonologist who understands dive medicine. That is the clearence you need to dive.
    I have asthma that is extremely well controlled and have had no symptoms in almost 10 years. I dive because my doc tells me i can!

    All because people with asthma tell you they dive...it does not mean that YOU can too! Get checked.
  5. solarmat

    solarmat Angel Fish

    # of Dives:
    Location: Uruguay
    Dear Pilman: when having 14 years old I begin to dive and cured my asthma forever. Recently when talking with a pilot, told me he often takes children to fly to cure them, seems that pressure air changes are a possible cure for this disease. For me was great to get on diving, since I used to breathe only three times a week:D, now my tank last for more than an hour at 60 feet. Generally the crisis are related to some allergen, when breathing purified air as in the scuba, you won`t have any risk. Don`t forget that allergens can be also some foods (orange, chocolate, beans..), you should run a test to know what is bad for you.
    Good luck
  6. Duke Dive Medicine

    Duke Dive Medicine Medical Moderator Staff Member

    Allergies are one possible trigger for asthma, but so is the dry air in a SCUBA tank. I don't think it's safe to say that someone with asthma is not at risk of an attack when diving.
  7. zugbug99

    zugbug99 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Mesa, Arizona
    Hi Pilman,
    Asthma is all about hypersensitivity of the lungs. Duke Dive Medicine is absolutly right. Allergies are a big trigger. the Sherwood Brut regulator helped to add a little moisture to the mouthpiece while diving. Asthma can range from very mild to quite severe. The concern is a asthmatic "attack" while diving and the difficulty in providing B2 agonists (bronchiodilators) to help aleviate symptoms. Albuterol and levalbuterol, with ipratropium and tioproprium are the most commonly use bronchiodilators in the states. Inhaled steroids or oral prednoisone is also helped to improve breathing. Allergy treatments range fomm oral antihistamines (Like LORADATINE,CERTRAZINE, FEXOFENADINE, DIPHENHYDRAMINE, nasal steroids, nasal antihistomines, etc). Scubadoc.com has some very good information about diving with asthma. I hope you don't smoke, if you do you must quit. It is no fun taking care of someone and seeing them die from a severe hypoxic episode from asthma. The local dive boat is lucky to have a oxygen kit (e cell and face mask 100% rebreather) that can give about 60 min of oxygen therapy. But they don't have access to advanced therapies that a local emergency room would have (adrenaline, IV steroids, Respitory therapy and intubation and mechanical ventilation).
    I have had a few cases of having to call the Coast Guard for a Stokes litter basket and rescue swimmer to take a diver to the mainland for treatment. A real bummer for the rest of the passangers and crew,
    Consider seeing a doctor knowledgeable about diving physiology and medicine. Pulmonary Function Tests can help to evaluate lung function (ask for diffusion studies also).
    Don't be "that guy" who refuses to be evaluated, and needs a Cost guard medivac off the dive boat because he is stubborn and refuses to consider preventative measures, and have adequate treatment readily available if asthma does flare.
    Otherwise, enjoy a great sport, be responsible for yourself and your actions.
    I would love to dive with you for some bugs off Anacapa in the future.
    Best Wishes!
    TSandM likes this.
  8. triedHerbs

    triedHerbs Garibaldi

    drinking methi seeds/fenugreek water helps boost the functioning of the lungs and prevents asthma attack. it's very healthy and effective in controlling asthma but not recommended for pregnant women.
    boil the seed or leave it to soak in water for a night and than drink the water on an empty stomach.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 1, 2013

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