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Can You Go to Altitude After Diving?

There are many risks with diving that can be avoided as long as you are fully equipped with the necessary information and high-quality equipment, as long as you make sure that your wetsuit, your goggles for snorkeling, and your breathing apparatus is as it should be you should find diving to be a fun experience that is completely safe. However, many risks that many divers do not always consider are putting themselves and their fellow drivers in danger when it can be easily avoided. There have been many developments in the diving world showing just how innovative the industry can be. For example, the problem of scuba diving with glasses was solved thanks to the creation of goggles with prescription lenses. However, we are yet to find a solution to combat decompression sickness. So frustrating as it may be to have to wait to fly, at this time, there is, unfortunately, no other solution.  


Flying after diving 

Flying on an airplane after diving is quite dangerous. After a dive, your body requires a significant amount of time to decompress, so you should be taking it comfortable and relaxing. If you were to enter the pressurized space of a plane too soon after a dive, then it is likely that air bubbles will form and that you will suffer from decompression sickness. Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, serious aches and pains, and confusion, to name a few. With this in mind, it would be best to wait as long as possible before flying in order to avoid discomfort and illness in the unfortunate environment of a plane. Especially if you plan on being on a plane for a long haul flight, you will definitely want to avoid causing sickness when there isn’t much that can be done to remedy it. 


How Does Flying After Diving Affect the Body? 

Due to the pressurization that your body is subject to when you are diving, you must give your body ample time to decompress if you want to avoid illness. If you were to go straight from diving to an airplane, then it is likely that decompression sickness would occur, this can cause a number of different things such as sickness, dizziness, headaches, confusion, joint pain, and maybe even a rash in more extreme circumstances. This really isn’t a pleasant experience, so you must avoid going to a higher altitude too early when you have been diving recently. If you have any diving expeditions planned or booked, I would recommend that you make sure your flights are booked for a time that gives you the necessary rest period before you have to travel.  


Are There Any Serious Risks Involved? 

Although it is not a common occurrence, it has been known for a diver suffering from decompression sickness to become seriously ill or even pass away. The one serious risk when it comes to subjecting your body to a pressurized environment is that the sickness will become so severe that it can lead to death. This is why it is so shocking that so many divers are completely unaware of the risk of traveling to high altitudes after diving.  The risk comes from the similarities in atmospheric pressure between being underwater and being on a plane. You are basically subjecting your body to a pressurized environment that is without natural oxygen for a period of time that simply cannot be handled. In this environment, bubbles can form, which is what causes the actual sickness. Overall I would highly recommend you against doing this as it just isn’t worth the risk that it carries.  


How to Safely Fly as a Scuba Diver  

As mentioned previously, there is no way to avoid having to wait the recommended period of time before you are able to fly after diving. The amount of time you will be required to wait is totally dependent on the type of diving you have been doing as well as how long you were diving for. For standard, less strenuous diving sessions, you should wait at least twelve hours before you get on a plane. This gives the body enough time to decompress fully and reduces the risk and the severity of any decompression sickness you may be subject to. If you have been diving over a longer period of time with decompression stops, the time will likely increase to around eighteen to twenty-four hours. 

Diving is a very fun activity; however, it has the potential to turn into a serious medical problem if you are lenient with the recommended wait times between flying and diving. It is my recommendation that you leave at least twenty-four hours no matter how long of a dive you took part in to give the body more than enough time to recover properly and reduce the risk of sickness.