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Diving with Diabetes Type 1

Discussion in 'Special Needs' started by Wetsuit 4 life, Mar 9, 2010.

  1. Wetsuit 4 life

    Wetsuit 4 life Divemaster

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Vancouver
    Just found out that i have diabetes type one and am trying to find information regarding recreational and tec diving (other then DAN recommendations, ). And if there is any changes that i should make to my gear such as a full face mask.

    Just looking for any advice or stories

  2. mjennings

    mjennings Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Houston, TX
    About the only thing you will need for dive trips is a medical release (I use PADI release). The dive operators I have dove with just want to know in advance that you are diabetic, and get a signed release from your doctor. At least, that has been my experience.

    I have been diving for 10+ years with diabetes and don't use any special equipment (or know of any). But I do come prepared to diagnose my conditions before getting in the water and immediately getting out. I also carry items to raise my blood sugars should they start to dip on the boat.
  3. bmorescuba

    bmorescuba Divemaster

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Baltimore, MD, USA
    I have had type 1 for over 20 years now. It will definitely take some time to get used to your new regimen. Unfortunately, it's an unpredictable condition with literally dozens of variables affecting blood glucose levels. That being said, I believe it's possible to dive safely with type 1. I have completed about 40 dives and worked my way up to PADI AOW (not a huge accomplishment, I know, but...). Before each certification, I obtained a medical release from my endocrinologist. The endo was willing to sign the release because I maintain good BG control. I have not found that any special equipment is needed, but I do have some guidelines that I follow:

    1. Never dive alone
    2. Always check BG before going on boat
    3. Intentionally keep BG a little high - somewhere between 150-200 during dives (if possible)
    4. Always keep glucose tablets in dive bag
    5. Always take a few glucose tablets right before dive (insurance)

    All of this is based on my own reasoning. By far the biggest risk is hypoglycemia while underwater. So, preventing that should be priority #1. A few hours of mild hyperglycemia is just par for the course.

    I have informed some of the dive operators that I have diabetes, others I have not. I have always informed my dive buddy.

    Good luck. Stay safe!
  4. Wetsuit 4 life

    Wetsuit 4 life Divemaster

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Vancouver
    Thanks for the advice
    it's good to see that i'am doing some of the same things as
    others. I have read about cake iceing in a tube which I have
    by buddy keep in BCD, now I just have to practice the use of
    the iceing
  5. lippoli

    lippoli Guest

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New York, NY
    My bf has Type 1 and we learned to dive together. He has very good blood sugar control so the doctor was willing to certify him. He has not had any trouble and he follows the same principles that you list out, bmorescuba.

    He and I are about to dive in the Caymans with a shop that is new to him (I have dived with them before). We are not doing any training, just diving. Do any of you think it's necessary to have a new signed PADI medical release at hand in order to make sure that he is not barred from diving? We had a terrible experience with this in Saba, where the doctor signed on the wrong line of the release and the dive shop actually kept him out of the water for a full day while we waited for a fax with a new signature to arrive from the States. He wants to be open about the diabetes so that no one questions it when he checks his sugar or pops glucose tablets on board the boat.
  6. mjennings

    mjennings Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Houston, TX
    PADI Medical Release forms are recognized as being valid for 1 year from the date it is signed. It would be prudent to carry a valid signed release form anywhere you want to dive.

    I generally take a release form with me on one of my quarterly visits to the doctor's office and have one signed whether I have immediate plans to dive or not. Full disclosure to the dive operator is always best. The dive operators appreciate knowing in advance what special circumstances they are dealing with.

    I dove with a dive operator who failed to pass my information on to the dive master leading our dive. He was quite shocked when he saw me removing my pump and immediately radio'd the main office before we got in the water. I could see the panic in his eyes and certainly sympathized with his dilemma. The main office confirmed my paperwork was in place and our dive proceeded from that point with very little delay.

    Often on the boat ride out to the dive site, I let the dive master know I am a diabetic just in case he has been left out of the loop. No problems have ever occurred with this level of disclosure.

  7. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    If you have just been diagnosed, you may want to stay out of the water a while until you are familiar with your own illness and how it behaves. Some people are very brittle and prone to DKA, and some are much more tolerant. You may well have some hyper- and hypoglycemic episodes while you are sorting out the ideal dosing regimen for your insulin. Once things have stabilized, you'll have a much better handle on how to adjust your eating and your insulin to keep matters safe for diving.
  8. DiveBen

    DiveBen Registered

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Orlando, Florida
    My dive buddy (16 year old son) has T1 diabetes, and has been diving with me for about one year now. To date, we have not informed any dive operator we have dove with, only because we just really didn't think to do so, and I guess I also didn't want my son to feel awkward at my mentioning it at sign in. Is it a requirement to do so, or just a good idea? I do not have a problem with it, just never gave it much thought. But after thinking about it, I can see where it may be beneficial to do so. Again, this is one of those things I just embarassingly hadn't given much thought to, until reading this thread. And I certainly do not want my son to feel, or think, that he has to, or should, hide his condition.

    By the way Wetsuit 4 life, he too is "fairly recently" diagnosed (two years).

    Friendly thoughts anyone ??

  9. mjennings

    mjennings Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Houston, TX
    DiveBen, I certainly understand the idea that it just never came to mind. We often become more desensitized about our own conditions because we adapt to them as a part of our lifestyle.

    I think my drive to notify the dive operator is just out of general courtesy, but even moreso, you may be subject to liability (or relieving the dive operator of liability), by not disclosing any medical conditions they ask about through their paperwork.

    Keep in mind that I only dive Cozumel, so it may be different elsewhere. But my primary reason is to let the dive operator know as a courtesy.
  10. Dr. Doug Ebersole

    Dr. Doug Ebersole Instructor, Scuba

    DAN (DAN Divers Alert Network) has a list of strong suggestions for diving with diabetes which you can get from their website. The main concern is the development of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during diving. Therefore the general recommendation is to do fingersticks frequently on your diving day (before diving , then immediately before entering the water, immediately after diving, etc). Additionally, you should always have some form of glucose you could take orally in the event of a hypoglycemic event underwater. Your buddy should know you are diabetic and the two of you should have a signal to indicate that you think you may be hypoglycemic. Additionally, it is recommended that you not do decompression diving or cave diving -- in other words, no diving that would prevent an immediate ascent to the surface in case of a problem.

    Just my 2 cents as a cardiologist, not a diabetologist.

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