Risks Associated with Scuba Diving

Barotrauma as explained by Boyle’s law, explains the risks associated with scuba diving:

  • Altitude Sickness
    Headache caused by a quick ascent, usually associated with airplane travel. Divers will experience this when then ascend rapidly from deeper depths
  • Lung Expansion Injuries
    Again potentially very fatal, where it is caused by scuba divers holding their breath whilst ascending to the surface
  • Decompression Sickness (a.k.a. “the bends”)
    Where nitrogen gases are released  from a solution within the tissues of your body (nitrogen embolism) which is a result of accelerated decompression
  • Inner Ear Damage or Hearing Loss
    This is damage resulting from diving without equalising the air pressure within your Eustachian tubes. This can be extremely painful and is aggravated by water pressure and blocked sinuses
  • Cerebral Embolism
    Is a result of gas seeping out of a solution within the brain. This can be potentially fatal.
  • Alternobaric Vertigo
    This is explained by disorientation or dizziness caused by unbalanced pressures within the inner ear. Most commonly experienced by scuba divers diving with a cold (say influenza – commonly known as the flu)
  • Pressure Arrhythmias
    External pressure resulting in abnormal heart rhythms
  • Nitrogen Embolism
    Nitrogen gases which are released from a solution within the tissues of your body. This is generally caused by accelerated decompression
  • Arterial Gas Embolism
    A potentially fatal situation, where gases are released from solutions in the arteries
  • Barodontalgia
    This is commonly known as tooth squeeze. It is pain caused by a change in atmospheric pressure, where tiny bubbles of gasses are trapped in ones teeth
  • Dysbaric Osteonecrosis
    Rare bone abrasions produced by long term exposure to high pressure environments. Again a form resulting from nitrogen embolism
  • Pneumomediastinum
    From the Greek word ‘pneuma’ (meaning air), is a situation of ruptured bronchus or alveoli in the lungs from excessive pressure. This is caused by holding ones breath whilst scuba ascent

Non-Barotrauma as explained by Henry’s Laws and Dalton’s Laws, explains the risks associated with scuba diving:

  • CO2 Toxicity (a.k.a. “hypercapnia”)
    This is caused by inadequate exhalation or air consumption during heavy exertion, resulting in too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in the body. General symptoms include headaches and/or confusion and shortness of breath
  • Nitrogen Narcosis (a.k.a. “rapture of the deep”)
    Divers who breathe high pressure gas at depth can also suffer from nitrogen narcosis This is a result of a toxic effect of high pressure nitrogen on your body’s nervous system. Symptoms are comparable to the effects of alcohol drunkenness 
  • O2 Toxicity
    This is a result of diving at deep depths, resulting in toxicity of absorbing too much oxygen. Symptoms can include a vomiting, twitching, dizziness or spasms


Other physical and health hazards associated with scuba diving:

  • Loss of Air
    This is typically caused by negligent air management or failure of scuba equipment resulting in the diver running out of air 
  • Drowning
    One of the most obvious is if a diver breathes in water instead of air or just simply running out of air 
  • Dehydration
    In short, dehydration results when you body does not have an adequate amount of water or fluids. Simply, dehydration is cause by not drinking too much water. Diving while dehydrated aggravates other health risks including CO2 Toxicity and Nitrogen Narcosis 
  • Hypothermia
    Is the condition where the body’s core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal metabolism and body functionality. Hypothermia can result in a loss of judgment and is simply a loss of body heat. Early symptoms include fatigue 
  • Underwater Injury
    These injuries can include bumps, bruises, sprains, abrasions and cuts from sharp coral. Studies have shown that the more common and serious injuries actually occur when getting in and out of a dive boat than actually when in the water
  • Dangerous Marine Life
    General rule of diving is not to disturb aquatic life. Injuries can result when divers touch poisonous animals such as sea urchins, jellyfish or stingrays. Fire coral can also cause injury and likewise attacks by larger fish, but these are extremely rare.



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