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Astma attack under water

Discussion in 'Ask Dr. Decompression' started by Pam and Stella, Dec 11, 2000.

  1. Dr Deco

    Dr Deco Medical Moderator Staff Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Issaquah [20 miles east of Seattle], Washington.

    Please do be careful with the asthma condition. The ocean is not always your friend…….

    Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll!
    Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
    Man marks the earth with ruin, - - his control
    Stops with the shore.

    Childe Harold's Pilgrimmage (clxxvii)
    [sp][sp]- George Gordon, Lord Byron
  2. Pam and Stella

    Pam and Stella Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Newport Beach

    Dr.Deco, Yes I do value my life greatly, and will be
    hypervigilant in my safety practices ;while diving in my

  3. Mario S Caner

    Mario S Caner Member

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: San Diego, CA
    "Documentation beats conversation"

    If you do continue to dive, will you be informing DiveMaster, Instructors, Dive Leaders, Boat Captain's etc of your condition?

    It would be wise to let someone know since you may need closer supervision or even assistance in unfortunate circumstances.

    Mario :D
  4. scywin

    scywin Nassau Grouper

    Dear Pam,

    I am not a doctor, and don't know any more than the other folks posting here. However, when I went through my certification, we had several people with asthma conditions. Divers Alert Network (DAN) was very helpful in providing information and referrals to doctors who were knowledgeable about scuba.

    I suggest you join DAN 800-446-2671 or http://www.diversalertnetwork.org

    Several of the people involved had gotten clearance from their regular doctors to dive, but when they got second opinions from doctors DAN recommended, they realized their regular doctors just did not understand the issues with scuba.
  5. jenmichigan

    jenmichigan Nassau Grouper

  6. Pam and Stella

    Pam and Stella Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Newport Beach


    Yes, I have insurance with DAN. Thank you though! I am going to get another workup from a scuba doctor very soon.
    Part of my problem lies in the area I live in, supposedly
    there are a vast and greater amount of molds,spores and fungi in this part of the country. When I was young and seeing a specialist I was told to move to Arizona, where everything is dead and dry.:) So, hopefully when I move, my condition will improve.

  7. gregor

    gregor Guest

    Howdy folks,

    regards from cold Cologne, Germany. I browsed through this thread, and I think there's a big lack of knowledge about diving w/ asthma, epecially most medicals just follow the rule "lung-disorder = no clearence".
    well, i did my o/w and advance o/w last year, but I'm aware of the risk which is definatly there. This post is kust my humble oppinion, but anyway, here it is:

    - You have to be physically fit
    This means, you should be able to do some execises like running, swimming etc, *above* a moderate level without getting an asthma condition.

    - You should know about your asthma
    When do I get it? Is it allergy-caused? If so, what kind of allergies do I have? Can I make sure that I'm not exposed to those allergenes while diving?

    - If you take medications like f.e. berotec or something to *prevent* an asthma-attack, take them 1/2hour before the dive. Sure, usually you should never dive on drugs, but having asthma should make you think different

    - If you get a wheeze while swimming in cold water, just don't dive - under water there might be a cold stream

    - Do you have severe asthma-attacks (means short breath or worse) which are caused by cold air or exercise? Then just don't dive.

    Today here in Europe bout 30% of the people are having problems with allergies - which usually is also affecting the pneumoral systems. That doesn't mean, they can't do sports - with a propper medical treatment and the surveillance of a good doctor is is possible. A number of professional athlets are asthmatics, but medication is getting better and better, and, what's most importent, they do know about their asthma and almost can predict when they will have problems.

    So, if you just have a mild, allergic indicated astma and can make sure, that you won't get those problems while diving and you doctor agrees to it after making the necessary tests, IMHO you are able to dive.

    But always remember this:

    Once at 30m (about 90 feet), if an asthma attack catches you, there's only little help, since asthma doesn't prevent you from breathing in but breathing out - which means the air is stuck in you lungs which makes it almost impossible to get up again!!!!

    Therefore only dive when you feel absolutely fit.

    Some other reccomendations:

    Don't try stuff like ice-diving, caving, etc., since a panic-attack might lead to an asthma-attack - a well known phenomenum. Just remember the last time when you forgot your inhaler - the attack just came when you forgot it at home - strange, huh? Well, some kinds of astma are related to states of mind - that's proven.

    Always keep a good state of your fitness, which sometime even helps you to get rid of your asthma. You also might want to try desensibilisation - you get a few shots with allergenes which will make you body to produce antigenes against them so that they don't affect you anymore or not that bad - ask your doctor about it.

    And last not least: Somebody said you should inform your buddies/divemaster about your condition: That's something I agree to 100%.

    OK, just my 2 cents

    Happy new year from Cologne, Germany

  8. Dr Deco

    Dr Deco Medical Moderator Staff Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Issaquah [20 miles east of Seattle], Washington.

    Sounds as though you have much of your situation under control.

    Enjoy your dives.[sp] Gluck Auf![sp]:thumb:

    Dr Deco
  9. John Reinertson

    John Reinertson Barracuda

    Pam, this was covered in depth at a diving medicine conference I attended. (yes we do sit through the classes) It is true there is a lack of precise medical research regarding asthma and SCUBA.
    There is no question that active asthma involves air trapping in the alveoli (little air sacs) in the lungs, and air trapping is a risk for Arterial Gas Embolism or Pneumothorax. The recommendation of the panel of experts (Brit and US) was that asthma be controlled well enough to allow vigorous exercise without shortness of breath.
    Everyone agreed that for clearance purposes, the same exercise standard as recommended for a diver with heart disease be followed.. That the person should be able to exercise to complete Stage Three of a Standard treadmill test.(nine minutes)
    Since this is impractical to do before each dive, and asthma varies enough day by day that fitness to dive with asthma must be assessed day by day, They suggested that the ability to run 100 yards at a fast run without triggering wheezing or shortness of breath would be a useful screen before each day's diving. Anyone incapable of that much exertion could easily place themselves or their buddy at risk if an emergency arose, and sudden bronchospasm underwater could easily kill a diver if it were severe and they were forced to ascend. (note! that doesn't mean do it before each dive! Heed Dr Deco's notes about exercising after diving!)

    One of the people on the trip volunteered that the asthmatics he knew that dived usually picked destinations with both good snorkeling and good diving, to provide an alternate activity if you needed to call a halt to the day's dive plans.This is the best compromise I know of to guard you and your buddy from risky decisions.

    On the days when your asthma is stable and it's safe, dive happily. On the other days, do something else or snorkel.

    Bear in mind the snorkeling out to be near shore, not on a drift dive where you could get caught in a horrible current or be tasked with a long unexpected swim.
    Dive safe and often.
    John Reinertson
  10. cooch

    cooch Guest

    as a dive instructor, in my opinion i would not allow you to dive on my facility without clearance from a local diving specialist, (through D.A.N. they can refer you to one in whichever area you want). this clearance would have to be recent.
    any diver with common sense would not want to buddy up with a potential casualty.
    snorkeling is your safest bet.
    good luck
    fyi: u/w asthma attack would more than likely be fatal

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