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Asthma and Diving

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Asthma and Diving

Post Number:#1  Postby SeaDemon » Mon Jan 01, 2007 2:09 am

Doc,

Back in the old days, asthma is considered a no-no for scuba diving. If you were to declare in the form that you're asthmatic, you'll never scuba dive.  However, I believe that for one not to have a scuba diving accident, is to NOT scuba dive (as I believe to NOT get DCS/DCI is to NOT dive at all). Correct me if I am wrong but there are three types of asthma: one that is triggered by allergies, one that is triggered by surroundings (ie. cold weather), and one that is induced by exercise/emotion.

A healthy person's breathing capacity is diminished due to depth, so much so that at 10 meters, a healthy person's at 70% of his surface breathing capacity; at 30 meters it is down to 50%.  A person suffering asthma would have smaller percentage in terms of breathing capacity at these depths.

What is the consensus amongst specialists/physicians on scuba diving and asthma? What should a diver with asthma do, or not do? I know of some divers who suffer from asthma, sometimes acute. So how do we advise these people?

I believe this is the first posting for 2007. 8-)
Last edited by SeaDemon on Mon Jan 01, 2007 2:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
SeaDemon
 
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Re: Asthma and Diving

Post Number:#2  Postby divedoc » Wed Jan 03, 2007 5:26 pm

Sea Demon,
Good question on Asthma.

Asthma is defined as 'A State of bronchial hyperreactivity resulting from a persistent inflammatory process in response to a number of stimuli in a genetically susceptible individual'. This generally means that when an asthmatic gets an attack, the airways become spasm, resulting in airway constriction, leading to death if left untreated.

In the military currently, asthmatics are allowed to dive, PROVIDED that they have been symptom-free for a good 5 years + do not need any treatment within that 5 years, and, in Lumut, passed the hypertonic saline challenge.  Meaning that even if u are symptom-free, using a Ventolin inhaler every now and then to prevent an attack makes u a non-diver. For more info on Hypertonic Saline Challenge, do call 05-9304071 and speak to the diving doctor there.

I do know of some recreational divers who are asthmatic, but refuse to stop diving, because they did not declare their illness in the form. However, as responsible divers, what we need to do is to advise these group of people that diving puts them at higher risk of getting an asthmatic attack compared to normal, healthy divers, and that their condition not only endangers them, but also to their diving buddies if anything happens in the water. We should also advise them for an annual dive medical checkups to assess their asthmatic risks and status and also to undergo the hypertonic saline challenge.

Hope that answers your question...
divedoc
 
Topic author

Re: Asthma and Diving

Post Number:#3  Postby drhalimm » Wed Jan 03, 2007 8:59 pm

Sea Demon, the problems with asthma is twofold:

1. Having an asthmatic attack underwater.
This can easily happen because of cold water, exercise and inhaling saltwater mist (from the regulator). Having an attack underwater is bad - can't sit and rest, can't take inhaler, can't take a decent breath from a SCUBA regulator. Bad news. But there is a more important reason for not diving with Asthma:

2. Pulmonary Barotrauma.
Even when not having an attack, some small airways in asthmatics remain blocked. During ascent, air in the blocked airways will expand (due to Boyle's Law) and.. pop! Gas bubbles from the ruptured airway then enters the lung's blood vessels, travels to the brain and blocks the blood flow there. Diver falls unconscious, gets paralysed and all sorts of bad, bad things. Doctors call this "cerebral arterial gas embolism". In english: bubbles in the brain's blood vessels. Bad, bad, bad. Keeps diving doctors and nurses up all night when this happens. (For the not-so-fun reasons, that is).

And there is another problem: What can be considered as having Asthma? Mild wheeze once a week that goes off without treatment? Attacks that stopped for good when you reached puberty? The odd once-a-year severe attack that comes with a cold?

Most doctors do agree on one thing - if you have a history or past history of Asthma - go see a diving doctor before you suck on that regulator. In most cases, they'll do what divedoc has suggested.
Last edited by drhalimm on Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
drhalimm
 
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Re: Asthma and Diving

Post Number:#4  Postby SeaDemon » Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:12 am

Hhahaha..thanks guys for the answer. I get this question very often from other divers as if I'm some British Bicycle (lazy to type Encyclopaedia Brittanica).

Divedoc...that number seems familiar. ::)

Caduceus...still skydive? 8-)
SeaDemon
 
Topic author

Re: Asthma and Diving

Post Number:#5  Postby Jim » Thu Jan 04, 2007 3:23 pm

Doc... i used to have asthma when i was a kid or infant rather. Cant remember whether it was bad or mild. However, i've never had any attacks and hopefully wont get any. Was told that am cured but my question is, can i get recurrence of asthma attack now? Do i need to go for annual dive medical check up to be on the safe side?

Thanks in advance.....
Jim
 
Topic author

Re: Asthma and Diving

Post Number:#6  Postby drhalimm » Thu Jan 04, 2007 9:23 pm

Jim, it is difficult to say whether you can get the odd, rare, recurrence of asthma. You are most probably fine for diving - but nothing beats that peace of mind of knowing you ARE fine. I'd suggest a medical check-up appointment by a diving doc in Lumut. They'll check out your detailed history, do some examination, and do some investigations (x-ray, spirometer, ECG etc). Details about diving medical examination at Lumut: www.iuhm.net. There is a special section on diving medicals examinations. It costs chickenfeed.

I don't think you'll need to do the check up annually. In most cases just the one check-up is enough.

Alternatively, you can do that at a private chamber run by Dr Lee and Dr Hew in Ipoh: 05-2426237.
drhalimm
 
Topic author

Re: Asthma and Diving

Post Number:#7  Postby drhalimm » Thu Jan 04, 2007 9:30 pm

Sea Demon,

Broke my arm - still not fully recovered. Might need to give it up - anybody wants to buy my wing? -Heatwave 170 in a PDF container and reserve, with expert Cypres installed. 200+ jumps.

Eh... silap forum la. Apa la Sea Demon ni.  :P
drhalimm
 
Topic author

Re: Asthma and Diving

Post Number:#8  Postby Jim » Fri Jan 05, 2007 11:59 am

Jim, it is difficult to say whether you can get the odd, rare, recurrence of asthma. You are most probably fine for diving - but nothing beats that peace of mind of knowing you ARE fine. I'd suggest a medical check-up appointment by a diving doc in Lumut. They'll check out your detailed history, do some examination, and do some investigations (x-ray, spirometer, ECG etc). Details about diving medical examination at Lumut: www.iuhm.net. There is a special section on diving medicals examinations. It costs chickenfeed.

I don't think you'll need to do the check up annually. In most cases just the one check-up is enough.

Alternatively, you can do that at a private chamber run by Dr Lee and Dr Hew in Ipoh: 05-2426237.



Wokay... thanx bro...

pssst... when can we go diving? Can call some OPs to join
Jim
 
Topic author

Re: Asthma and Diving

Post Number:#9  Postby zzz » Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:15 am

Hi guys,

I too was told I had asthma... Had childhood asthma which resolved by the time I was a teenager. However, more recently I have been told that I have mild asthma as I had bouts of chronic cough that lasted weeks after a cold/infection... Thank god this was after I has my diving license plus have gone for numerous dives.....

Had no prblem diving after that but I think one should be careful when diving after just recovering from a cold/flu etc. Made the mistake of diving just over 2 weeks after a cold last year.... Although symptomatically I was OK..when I dived I felt a lot of irritation and coughed a lot underwater... equalising was a problem too... As I had dived a lot by then I knew what to do....


Since I am a die-hard scuba addict nothing can stop me from diving but I do now  take excessive precautions...After that I never dive within one month of recovering or would avoid at all cost a respiratory tract ailment a month within any trips...

Btw..those with asthma might find this link interesting...

http://www.scuba-doc.com/asthma.htm
zzz
 
Topic author

Re: Asthma and Diving

Post Number:#10  Postby azrint » Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:19 am

Have nothing to with the discussion, welcome ZZZ. Welcome..welcome..welcome. ;D
azrint
 
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Re: Asthma and Diving

Post Number:#11  Postby zzz » Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:22 am

Hey azrint ..thanks..how's your leg ;D
zzz
 
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