Under Pressure Part 2

So, after that brief disturbance in operations, back to Pressure… The last post on this topic was a short one about the way that pressure can affect you while diving at depth. This post is going to go over what you as a diver can do to alleviate the adverse effects of pressure. It’s going to be a short post, mostly because of a single fact: dive medicine isn’t 100% sure how pressure will affect you, or when it will.

Basically, dive medicine is just over a century old for all intents and purposes. Pioneered by men like Haldane and the caisson workers of old, the effects of pressure are not really that well understood because it’s a very “niche” area of medicine. While great advances have been made, all of which have made diving safer, there are still many questions. How exactly does nitrogen “fizz” into bubbles that cause the infamous “bends”? Does diving while pregnant adversely affect the fetus? More recently, with the numerous programs to get wounded veterans and people with similar disabling injuries into the water, they’ve discovered that some show increases to activity in areas that are damaged and improved mental states. These are only some of the many mysteries in the world of diving medicine.

As to how to avoid the effects of pressure, well that’s a tough one. Mostly because it can suddenly and surprisingly affect you. The best I can say is to dive often, stay fit, and dive with a reliable buddy or dive guide. The latter may be the most helpful, as they’ll (hopefully) recognize your symptoms and conduct a controlled return to the surface, where you can get some sweet, sweet O2. A good idea here is to wait at least 24 hours (if not more) before returning to the water if you’ve suffered a bad bout of nitrogen narcosis a.k.a. the Rapture of the Deep. If you’ve suffered any other kind of DCS or injury, you absolutely should follow the instructions you’re given by medical personnel regarding diving in the future; and flying. As a note on flying, never fly less than 24hrs after a dive. There’s always a slight chance of getting bent with the changes in pressure that occur during a flight.

Sorry for the bit of a jumble this post is, it’s been a hell of a week, and the next three are going to be equally gruelling. I’ll do my best to put something better together for the next post!

About the author

Graeme is a professional diver, qualified as a PADI and SDI Divemaster, DCBC 40m Unrestricted Commercial Scuba Diver, 30m Restricted Surface Supply diver, and CAUS Scientific Diver Lv.2. Graeme has an Associate Degree of Arts in Environmental Studies, where he focused on archaeology and physical geography, and an Advanced GIS certificate.