Are you fit to dive?

Are you fit to dive?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 03/06/2020

Reading time: 4 mins

One of the most common activities for people visiting the Great Barrier Reef is diving. With specialised diving instructors and better safety equipment than ever before, diving is increasingly more accessible to visitors.

However, there are a lot of things to consider before you book in for your dive. Even if you’re a great swimmer you may not be medically fit to dive. The last thing we want is for you to book a dive and then find out that you can’t participate!

Here’s a few things to consider before you book your dive

  • Flights

    Airplane at Sunset

    First and foremost, if you’re planning to fly out of Cairns the day after your dive, don’t book it. It is highly inadvisable to fly after you dive there are many medical implications of flying at high altitudes too soon after a dive. You cannot fly for 24 hours before or after diving.

    Flying after diving becomes dangerous due to the potential to develop decompression sickness. Decompression sickness is caused by excess nitrogen in the bloodstream following a dive. While diving you will be taught how to control your descent and ascent to minimise the chances of decompression.

  • Asthma

    Asthma is the most common chronic disease worldwide. While it is technically incurable, many children are known to ‘grow out’ of it as they age. Those who do not, however, have several highly effective techniques to manage the disease.

    However, regardless of if the disease is managed or not, those with asthma are unable to dive. As it is a respiratory condition if a diver was to have an asthma attack while underwater, they would risk their own and potentially others’ lives.

  • Pregnancy 

    Pregnant women at beach

    If you are pregnant it is not possible to dive. There are several risks to both the foetus and the person carrying it. The nitrogen in tank oxygen poses a significant risk to the baby, as does the compression and pressure on the body experienced when diving.

    Under no circumstances will a person who is pregnant be allowed to dive.

  • Epilepsy

    Unfortunately, similarly to asthma, though epilepsy can be effectively treated individuals with the condition are not able to dive. Any condition which may cause a change in consciousness or cause neurological symptoms without warning is not compatible with diving.

  • Diabetes

    We get asked this quite often, so thought we’d throw this in the list too. Those who have diabetes can dive, however, their diabetes must be under control. Additionally, they must not have had a hypoglycemic event or been hospitalised in the past 12 months.

    To dive you may need to provide a medical certificate from your doctor. Feel free to contact us for further information.

  • Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications

    While you will need to disclose any prescription medications you are on, you can still dive while on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. The only consideration we ask you to take is to ensure you have been on your medication for at least two weeks before your planned dive to ensure you know about any side effects.

    If you’re on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication you should bring a certificate from your doctor certifying that you are safe to dive.

  • Alcohol

    When you are going for a dive your blood alcohol concentration must be 0.0. That means no drinking before you dive, and no big nights beforehand. Having alcohol in your system can lead to several dangerous complications when diving and you will not be allowed to dive if you have had anything to drink.

    However, once you’re out of the water you are more than welcome to drink. Some of our tour boats even have bars on board where you can grab a cold one!

  • Diving safely

    Ultimately when diving we want to ensure that you and everyone around you is safe. If you have any concerns or conditions that may impact your ability to dive, we recommend getting a certificate from your doctor.

    If you have a question about something we haven’t covered, feel free to contact our friendly team.

Related article: How old do you have to be to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.