You are in Sharm to dive, but you are also on holiday? When diving the balance between those heavy nights out and your daily dive activities can be a fine one. This month we ask our medical experts in Sharm’s Hyperbaric Medical Centre what the effects of alcohol can be and more importantly how they can directly affect the diver.
First and foremost it is important to state that there is a big difference between “feeling” fine and actually being fine. One drink can actually produce a marked decline in reaction times, the visual, psychological and physical processing of tasks and a person’s attention span. Furthermore research has indicated that even after the blood alcohol level has returned to zero these abilities take time to return to normal, this has a large impact on the hung-over diver.
The diuretic effect of alcohol on the kidneys means that it becomes extremely easy to become de-hydrated creating an unacceptable risk of DCS.
Drinking in between dives (even one drink), is a definite no. Aside from the above factors there is also an increase in the effect of nitrogen narcosis whilst in water.
A pilot study made in Sharm el Sheikh and published during the 2007 EUBS Conference concluded that “..Alcohol awareness among divers is not emphasized enough…” and “…that 6.5% of diving professionals have a history of alcohol related injury…”
One must also account for the other factors that often accompany a night spent drinking, these can be anything from heavy smoking to disturbed sleep and late nights, neither of which are compatible with safe diving.
If the lure of the bar and tequila bottle is too much to resist then either save it for your last night or even take a days break in your dive trip.
It is important to enjoy your holiday but it is more important to us that you remain safe.
Dr. Adel Taher & Dr. Ahmed Sakr: your diving docs
If you have any medical queries please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. The most interesting one will be discussed in our next issue.
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