A VHF marine radio is the single most important radio system you should buy. It is probably also the most inexpensive. Most boaters have questions about their boat’s radio, the correct way to use their radio, how the radio works and what license they need. The basic radio practices can be learned quite fast.
A nautical chart gives you the relevant information required to make a safe passage plan using the charted fixed marks such as buoys and landmarks, so that you can take bearings and maintain a correct course.
You may gain pilotage information with the help of the nautical chart regarding the position and nature that is favourable to the navigator. The chart holds crucial information such as landmarks, seamarks and seabed information.
Atlanta, Georgia has some of the greatest dive destinations in the country, so many people plan to head there each time they feel like diving. If you are one of those people, keep the following tips in mind before you set off, especially when you want to take dive lessons.
Find The Correct Diving Company.
You need to spend some time researching various dive school companies so that you pick one that will be a good fit for you. You can do this research on the internet and then give some of the schools a call so that you can talk to someone that works there.
That phone discussion will help to give you an idea of whether they are the right school for you or not. You can also talk to friends so that they can advise you or recommend a good company.
Schedule The Dive Early.
Weather has a way of throwing up some unpleasant surprises so you need to schedule your dive as early in the day as possible so that there is every chance that the weather will be favorable for the dive to take place. Should you neglect to do this, you may not have time to wait for the weather to clear so that you can dive and your trip will be a wasted one.
What Documents Do You Need To Have?
Let the scuba diving school clearly specify which documents you will be required to have when you arrive there. These may include your photo identification document, the ticket proving that you paid for the dive, and so on.
It is also helpful to inquire about the documents that they expect you to sign prior to being taken out to dive so that if need be you can consult your attorney about them.
What Is Their Cancellation Policy?
It is wise to ask about the cancellation policy of the diving school you choose. A friend found out about this the hard way when she went to a top plastic surgeon in Atlanta to get this procedure http://www.asc-psd.com/cosmetic-surgery/rhinoplasty. She thought she could go diving a month later but she was left with no choice but to forfeit half of the money she had paid when the dive instructor told her that it was not possible for them to take her out diving when she had just had such an invasive procedure done.
Are You Prone To Nausea Or Seasickness?
You also need to clarify to the dive instructor whether or not you are prone to seasickness or nausea so that they can take the necessary precautions when training you. The same disclosure should be done if there is any other medical condition that may affect your ability to safely dive.
Once you have successfully completed your dive instructions you will be the proud owner of a diving certificate attesting to your newly acquired skill. Your success in this undertaking will greatly depend on your choice of an appropriate dive school so choose wisely!
Scuba diving is inherently risky, and there are several medical conditions that can make it even more dangerous. The following are common questions first-time divers have prior to their first dive.
Q. Can I dive with hyperthyroidism?
A. It’s not a good idea to dive if you have an overactive thyroid gland that is not being treated. The thyroid secretes thyroxine, which regulates metabolism. In excessive amounts, this can also produce cardiac symptoms and even muscle weakness or paralysis. Once the hyperthyroidism is treated, it is generally safe to dive.
Q. Can I safely use over-the-counter decongestants and allergy medication?
A. Drowsiness from antihistamines may worsen nitrogen narcosis and impair your ability to think and react quickly. Decongestants, meanwhile, narrow the blood vessels and may result in mild central nervous system stimulation.
Q. How long do I need to wait to fly after diving?
A. Waiting to fly after a dive can reduce your risk of decompression sickness. After a single no-decompression dive, you should wait at least 12 hours. After several no-decompression dives over a couple of days, wait 18 hours.
Q. Can I dive after ear surgery?
A. Diving is usually not recommended for anyone who has undergone inner ear surgery. The vestibular system of the inner ear contains an organ that gives us our sense of balance. If any of the vestibular systems are not functioning, or bodies learn to compensate. Some damage can create a permanent balance disturbance. The most common injury among divers is barotrauma of the middle ear, which can potentially cause hearing loss and worse balance issues.
Q. Can I dive after radial keratotomy for myopia?
A. Radial keratotomy is a common procedure that cures nearsightedness. While there is a theoretical risk of increased injury to the eye from mask squeeze, there have been no reports of this happening. Wait at least three months after your procedure and avoid mask squeeze.
Q. Is it safe to dive with high blood pressure?
A. High blood pressure is a very common condition, and it’s believed to be one of the biggest contributing causes to diver deaths underwater. Taking diuretics for high blood pressure presents a problem, as it reduces circulating blood volume and makes you more prone to developing the bends underwater. Many divers can safely go underwater with high blood pressure, as long as it’s treated, particularly with ACE inhibitors or A2RI’s.
Q. Can I dive after cosmetic surgery?
A. Yes, but how long you need to wait depends on what you had done. This is something you should discuss with your surgeon and a dive doctor. The waiting time to dive after a facelift is 2-3 months, whereas the wait time after ear surgery may be up to six months.
Always follow your doctor’s recommendations. I have seen many divers injured because they assumed their medical condition would not affect diving. In fact, three months ago a friend received Melbourne, FL facelift plastic surgery from Clevens Face and Body Specialists and tried to go on her first dive after just six weeks. She assumed that, because the swelling was gone and she looked normal, there would be no further complications. She ended up with mask squeeze that reopened a few sutures and she required a second operation.
Your health is nothing to play games with. Be safe and consult a doctor for a check-up before diving.
When you are a person who loves the ocean, and enjoys the fun of scuba diving, you face more challenges than the general public. For instance, the sport you love is sometimes dangerous and although filled with adventure, can be a life threatening sport at times. As you know, when you dive, you face a few dangers that might include: sharks, an accident, or losing oxygen for some unknown reason. Accidents happen and that it why for divers, getting life insurance can sometimes be a challenge.
Here are some things that as we all know can go wrong on a dive:
Oxygen Toxicity – If you are a deep diver, beyond 120 feet, the oxygen you rely on can become toxic to your body. This has obvious repercussions not the least of which is death
Pulmonary Embolism – As you rise to the surface after enjoying your dive, the increased pressure can result in your lungs “popping” in the form of a pulmonary embolism. Yes, you can die from this.
Sharks – It’s true that if you are a diver, you just might encounter a shark. While most sharks are quite harmless, not all of them are, and you might end up as dinner for an angry shark.
Equipment Malfunction – Sometimes things just don’t go your way in life right? Well, you don’t want one of those time to be while you are diving. The equipment you have is keeping your alive but accidents can and do happen and many a diver have perished due to faulty equipment.
Now that you see the potential dangers of diving (as if you didn’t know), you will understand why insurance companies are hesitant to offer life insurance coverage to a diver. You might find it odd, but they would rather give life insurance to someone who is 80 years old instead of someone who dives. You might try to find an insurance broker that specializes in high risk types of insurance, however, most companies don’t want to touch you as a policy holder due to the sport you love.
What are some options? Instead of life insurance you might consider investing your money into a mutual fund or other investment vehicle. No, it won’t provide a life insurance benefit, but it is a good start to provide for your loved ones. Another option is to take insurance through your job. This is often known as very good insurance because you really can’t be denied. As long as your health is good, you will be able to secure coverage through your employer’s group plan.
Precautions – Do make sure that you take great care during your dives. Check your equipment, dive with a partner, and only go on dives in areas you are familiar with. Insurance is great, but living a long healthy life is even better. Odd because most divers are quite fit but insurance companies still don’t want to insure them. About the only insurance a diver will qualify for is funeral insurance and that’s a policy no one wants to cash in on!
Most female divers have a big complaint in common: it can be really hard to find a wetsuit that fits properly. Many women are left trying to decide what to get: a womens wetsuit, a mens wetsuit or a unisex wetsuit. This confusion is particularly common among women who are tall, have broad shoulders or a great deal of muscle. The fact that sizing charts are notoriously inaccurate for women only compounds the problem. Hopefully this helps you if you’re struggling with this decision.
What’s Different About a Womens Wetsuit?
Womens wetsuits, unlike unisex suits, are designed for a woman’s body specifically. This means they have more room in the chest and hips with less room for shoulders, arms and legs. Men also have longer torsos proportionate to their body so male wetsuits are wider at the top and longer.
Unisex wetsuits are designed to fit both men and women, which means some men may find them too snug, and some women may find them too loose.
Which Should You Get?
Now let’s over some specific considerations to help you narrow down your options. As you go through this list, you may find that your body type gives contradictory recommendations. Just remember that, in general, women who are tall, broad and flat-chested find a better fit in a men’s size, whereas very curvy women should definitely stick with a women’s wetsuit. If you fall somewhere in between, you can choose between a unisex or a women’s wetsuit.
1. If you are a tall woman (5’9″ and above), a unisex suit or men’s long suit will give you enough suit length.
2. If you are busty (C cup or larger), stick with a women’s wetsuit, as unisex and men’s suits will have chests that are too narrow.
3. If you have an athletic build (wide shoulders, small chest and narrow hips), a men’s medium will probably fit well.
Tips for a Great Fit
Never order wetsuits online unless you have tried on that exact wetsuit at a store or rented it from a dive shop. Most dive shops will let you rent a suit to try it out before you buy it, and this is really a good way to go. Unless you have experience with the brand, don’t try ordering online based on inaccurate sizing charts. This is really important, because every brand is different. Some brands’ mens suits will not work with women who have even average-sized breasts, whereas some brands’ womens sizes will not work at all for women who are busty or above 5’9″.
If all else fails, consider a custom-made wetsuit that’s tailored to your body. My best diving friend had to do this last year after she went to Williams Center Plastic Surgery Specialists for breast augmentation plastic surgery in Albany, NY. She’s very tall (6’3″) with broad shoulders and she had a very flat chest. Prior to the surgery, men’s sizes fit her to a tee, but after she had the breast enlargement, she couldn’t fit into men’s or women’s wetsuits very easily. She ended up having a suit custom-made and she re-orders that suit whenever hers wears out.
Lawsuits are very common today, and you’ll probably be required to sign a release or waiver before going on a dive with a dive operator. Dive operators and certified diver instructors need to understand the legal rights and responsibilities they face, especially considering the risky nature of scuba diving.
The Waiver and Release
When a scuba diver signs a liability release and the assumption-of-risk document, they are acknowledging that they understand the risks associated with diving and release the operator or instructor from responsibility in the case of injury or death. Many of these waivers have a statement describing safe diving practices the diver is required to follow as well.
How strong are these waivers? It depends. If the waiver is very well written, it can help the operator or instructor with a legal defense in the case of a lawsuit. In this case, gross negligence must be proven to win a lawsuit, which means the instructor or operator did something very egregious.
These waivers are basically a document in which the diver agrees not to sue for damages or injuries as well. There are very few ways around this waiver if you are injured on a dive, unless the operator or instructor was grossly negligent or did something wrong outside of the dive, such as leaving you adrift in the ocean.
You should understand that the enforce-ability of these agreements depends on where you live.
The Medical Statement
The medical statement is very important, because it’s designed to let divers know about medical conditions that can cause injuries during a dive, and it informs divers to seek medical attention and advice before going on a dive.
It’s actually really common for people with medical problems to fail to disclose their condition on the statement and then try to sue the dive company or instructor after they are injured. In fact, the inspiration for this article comes from an acquaintance of mine who tried just such a thing. She went to Holcomb & Kreithen Plastic Surgery and MedSpa about one month before going on a dive with a tour company in Florida. She got an eyelid lift similar to this http://Sarasota-Med.com/Blepharoplasty-Eyelid-Lift and did not ask her doctor about diving.
She did not disclose the surgery to the dive company, and — unsurprisingly — sustained an injury. She developed mask squeeze, which led to an infection at the surgery site and required a new operation. She tried to sue the company for damages and lost. Just be aware that these cases very, very rarely end in favor of the injured diver.
The bottom line is you need to understand your responsibilities, whether you are a diver, dive operator or instructor. These documents can provide a lot of protection for dive operators, and divers especially must understand that they have a responsibility to be fit and in good health prior to a dive. You are responsible for your own safety when you decide to go on a dive. While laws are designed to protect you from gross negligence, poorly maintained equipment and other forms of liability, don’t assume the tour operator will protect you. Do your research, make sure they’re reliable and reputable, and do your own part to be safe.
Whether you plan to relax on the beach of a luxury hotel or travel abroad for a scuba diving vacation, there’s nothing like a beach vacation to make you feel revitalized. These tips will help you make sure your trip goes smoothly.
Traveling with Scuba Gear
If you’re going to get on a plane with scuba gear, you’ll want to think carefully about how to pack your gear for the flight. Always pack your expensive gear in your carry-on bag, especially prescription masks, regulators and dive computers, as these items are sensitive and may be damaged by baggage handlers.
To pack your checked bag, start by packing your dive jack first in the middle of the bag, then surround it with your fins to protect it. If you don’t have room in your carry-on for the mask, it should be wrapped in your wetsuit to keep it from breaking. I also suggest packing a back-up masks. Your dive knife should also be in your checked bag. If you plan to bring your small emergency air source, the valve should be removed so it can be inspected.
Protecting Your Skin
If you’re going to spend a lot of time near the water, it’s very important to make sure your skin is protected. Sand and water reflect up to 80% of the sun’s rays. Along with using sunscreen and reapplying every two hours, make sure you protect your head and eyes with a hat and sunglasses. If you’re going to surf, be sure to invest in a rash guard.
Because it’s so common for people to get cosmetic procedures of some kind before heading on a beach vacation, I think it’s also worth mentioning that many procedures require that you stay out of the sun for some time. For example, Dr. Batniji helps to create anti-aging treatment plans, including skin resurfacing. This procedure is popular among people who want to look younger before they go on a trip, but sun exposure for the first two weeks can cause your skin to become painfully inflamed. You should also avoid procedures like this http://www.drbatniji.com/facelift before your trip. If you absolutely have your heart set on it, make sure you do it at least 6 months before your trip.
Should You Get a Package Deal?
If you want as little stress as possible, you may want to look into all-inclusive package deals. You will know exactly how much your trip will cost — including accommodations, meals, travel and outings — but you may end up spending more time at the resort than you would otherwise. Packages are usually more affordable than booking everything on your own, too.
If you already have a good idea of what you want to do at your destination and you want to stay at a hotel or resort that doesn’t offer a package deal, just skip it and book everything yourself.
Finally, if you’re having some trouble deciding on the best destination to enjoy the sun and water, Fodor’s Travel has a pretty cool interactive quiz you can use. You just click on the pictures of the things you want to do and it will match you to the best beach vacation destination.
If you’re a frequent diver, you’ve probably replaced your fair share of wetsuits. If you’re just getting into diving, you may be unsure how long this investment will last you. On average, wetsuits last up to six years for very occasional divers, but perhaps just 3 months for someone who spends a lot of time in the water.
Virtually all wetsuits are made from neoprene, which loses flexibility as it ages. There are some ways to repair some damage, such as tears, and proper maintenance is vital to make sure you get as much life out of the wetsuit as possible.
Proper Maintenance and Storage is Key!
Make sure your wetsuit is rinsed after each dive and hung to dry on a hanger. If you dive in salt water or chlorinated water, it should be rinsed extra well using wetsuit shampoo, which conditions the suit and removes chlorine. Never hang your wetsuit on a wire hanger; a wetsuit hanger or padded hanger is best. Never dry it in the sun, as UV rays will damage the neoprene. A really easy way to let your wetsuit dry completely is to hang it overnight in your shower. Make sure the suit is turned inside-out after washing and rinsing to retain flexibility.
Your wetsuit should be stored away from light on a wide hanger or lying flat to avoid any folds or creases, which can become permanent and eventually crack.
Sunlight and debris (such as sand and dirt) are the worst enemies of neoprene. The more time your wetsuit spends in the sun, the faster it will age and dry out. Likewise, you should be careful to remove any sand or dirt after hitting the beach, because this debris will cause the suit to break down even faster.
When Is It Time to Replace the Suit?
The following are the most common signs it’s time to just replace the suit and give up trying to repair it.
1. You’ve lost or gained weight.
If you’ve gained or lost enough weight that your suit no longer fits snugly or securely, it’s time to get a new suit. This is especially true if you have a custom-made suit. One of my best friends ordered a custom-made suit last year and it fit like a glove. He wasn’t overweight but had gynecomastia, so two months after he bought the suit he had a procedure like this http://www.donaldrolandmd.com/breast-reduction.html from a surgeon who does male plastic surgery. Needless to say, the suit still fit in most places but not his chest, so he had to replace it because it couldn’t keep him warm anymore.
2. Your suit is brittle.
Brittle neoprene is a sure sign that your suit’s a goner. When the suit becomes brittle, it will start cracking and leaking, and get too far gone to repair. There’s no saving a suit that’s gone bad.
3. More than one tear or rip.
If you have small tears that are 1-2 inches, you can repair them on your own at home. Larger tears or torn seams or stitches will require a professional repair service. This isn’t cheap, but it can save a suit that only needs a single repair. If your suit has several rips or tears, it’s probably going to be cheaper to get a new suit rather than pay for repairs.
Before you head out for a dive, make sure you avoid these four things, which can increase your risk of injury or sickness during or following your dive.
1. Do Not Drink Alcohol Before Diving
Avoid alcohol — even a couple of days before you plan to hit the water. Why? There are several reasons. When you drink alcohol, it causes blood vessels in the skin to open, increasing blood flow to the skin and causing that feeling of warmth. This warm feeling diverts blood flow from your core, however, which saps heat and makes you more prone to hypothermia.
Alcohol also delays shivering, so even a single drink before a dive will compound heat loss and make it harder to get warmed up when you’re out of the water. It’s also believe that alcohol is a contributing factor to the number of dive accidents involving heart disease.
Many also think alcohol plays some role in dive accidents blamed on poor physical conditioning, as alcohol impedes the body’s production of glucose, reducing our ability to exercise. A diver who has had a drink or two may not be able to make the effort necessary in an unexpected emergency.
2. Avoid Big Meals Before Diving
Along with avoiding alcohol before a dive, you should also prepare your body with good nutrition because you will expend a lot of energy. Stock up on carbohydrates two days before the dive. The morning of the dive, do not eat anything greasy but have a simple breakfast with carbohydrates. Don’t overeat, or you will just feel terrible later! You should also get plenty of water, because it can help avoid getting decompression sickness.
While it may sound obvious, a lot of people plan their first dive trips after cosmetic procedures like rhinoplasty. The time you have to wait before you can safely dive depends on what you have done. A friend recently had Atlanta botox cosmetic injections at Premier Image Cosmetic & Laser Surgery and only had to wait a week before her first dive trip. If you’ve had more invasive work done, especially work that involves your inner ears or sinuses, you may have to wait up to six months.
The same goes for non-elective surgery like heart surgery. Always discuss recovery with your doctor to find out how long you need to wait before diving. If you dive too soon, you risk serious complications!
Smoking has very obvious health risks, but it also poses additional risks to divers. Divers can face chronic problems from long-term smoking. Several chemicals in cigarette smoke can lead to chronic bronchitis, while tar destroys the cilia that line the respiratory tract. It’s the destruction of the cilia that allow airways to be clogged and cause the smoker’s cough.
Diver’s have a great deal more to worry about than a cough. Chemicals in cigarette smoke can destroy alveolar walls that create cavities in the lungs, causing emphysema, which is unrelated to the diver’s condition known as lung overexpansion. Still, doctors who specialize in treating divers will tell you that emphysema can produce air-filled dilations that increase your risk of pulmonary barotrauma and arterial gas embolism when you dive.
Mucous plugs from long-term smoking can also be dangerous to a diver, as the air-filled sacs in the lungs are prone to rupturing when you ascend. This can lead to pulmonary barotrauma in divers who smoke who were otherwise breathing normally.
Smoking shortly before a dive is especially dangerous, as it will reduce your tissue oxygenation. This means you’ll need to work harder to maintain a normal level of activity, which puts you in a dangerous position in the water. An acceptable carbon monoxide (CO) level for diving is just 10 ppm by volume, or 0.001%. A heavy smoker may have up to 15% of their oxygen replaced with CO.
Diving requires carrying around a lot of gear, particularly tanks. This means you’re at a higher risk of injuring your back — even if you don’t feel the pain for years. Carrying gear isn’t the only way you can end up hurting your back, as many divers and swimmers arch their lower back without realizing it. Overarching is a symptom of hyperlordosis, and this will cause pain shortly after a dive.
To make sure your favorite past-time doesn’t end up being the cause of chronic back pain down the road, here are some tips to protect your health while diving.
Hug The Tank — Don’t Use the Handle
Carrying heavy tanks is the number one cause of back injuries among divers. Tanks don’t have a very good design, either, as most just have a handle at one end which prompts you to carry it with one hand and put unbalanced stress on your body. Many are too long to even carry without hunching over. To combat this, make sure you carry your tanks across your chest in both arms in an embrace.
Wear Your Tank and Weight Belt
On the way to the boat, always wear your tank and weight belt instead of carrying them to distribute the weight evenly.
Get Help To Put On Your Gear
A lot of divers will put on their tank and buoyancy compensator like a coat, putting in the first arm, then a shoulder, then the other arm. The better way to do it to avoid injury is asking a friend to hold your buoyancy compensator and put both arms in at once and let it rest on your shoulders before letting your back bear the weight.
Practice Safe Lifting
Always use your legs to lift, bending from the knees instead of the waist. You should also lift close to your body. Holding weight at arm’s length will increase the stress you put on your back. Never jerk to lift something.
Climb Slowly into the Boat
Along with carrying around tanks, another common way divers hurt their back is simply climbing back into the boat after a dive. You’ve been under the water and you’re probably unsteady; plus, the boat is probably moving and you’re top-heavy with your gear on. Do not twist to avoid falling! This will strain your back and possibly even put you out of commission for awhile. Climb slowly and use your arms to bear weight as much as you can. Spread your hands apart before moving your feet up to the next rung and be very deliberate in your movements to avoid injury.
Get Help for Musculoskeletal and Orthopedic Problems
If years of diving has done a number on your back, or you’re dealing with a one-time injury from twisting while climbing the ladder onto the boat, for example, make sure you get help right away to keep the problem from getting worse. You don’t necessarily have to see a dive specialist; a chiropractor or an orthopedic surgeon can help, such as Dr. Hillelson of http://www.americanself.com/, who helped me recover from a knee injury two years ago caused by — you guessed it — carrying tanks around by the handle. His Tumblr blog here http://americanself.tumblr.com/ also has some good advice for avoiding injury in the water.
The right wetsuit will help protect you from weather and water conditions and keep you both safer and warmer in the water. Buying an ill-fitting wetsuit will be a complete waste of money because it won’t keep you warm. But how should the wetsuit fit your body? Should it be loose in the armpits or chest?
Getting the Right Fit
A wetsuit should, ideally, be tight in the armpits, chest, lower back and seal around the neck, legs and wrists. Different brands work for different body types as well, so you may need to experiment and try on different brands. If all else fails, you may want to get a custom-made wetsuit. This is the only way to get a perfect fit for 99% of people.
As you try on suits, keep one thing in mind: the suit should fit as snugly as possible without compromising comfort. If the torso or arms are a little too long, that’s okay, because it won’t affect warmth or comfort. Short arms or a torso on the suit will impact comfort and make the suit feel too stiff.
I also recommend shopping for wetsuits when your body weight is stable. While this may sound obvious, I know one woman who got a South Carolina breast enhancement two months after buying a brand-new, custom-made wetsuit — which she had to sell so she could buy a new one. If you’re planning to get breast augmentation plastic surgery, bariatric weight surgery or any other type of procedure that will alter your body size or shape, it’s best to hold off on getting your own suit until your weight and shape stabilizes. Until then, just stick with renting a suit.
While sizing is really important, there are other considerations to pick the right wetsuit.
Features to Look for
There are a few other things you may want to look for, depending on your budget. Most wetsuits today are lined with neoprene on one or both sides, which makes the suit stronger and easier to get into. If you’ll be doing a lot of cold water dives, you may want the neoprene lining on the outside only, but remember this makes it harder to get into your suit.
You can also consider versatility. If you get a farmer-john style suit, you’ll have double trunk insulation for cold water, or you can choose to wear just the jacket or pants in warm water. You may want a full body wetsuit with a hooded vest for cold water dives.
I also recommend getting a wetsuit with thigh pockets, which is just really handy. Check that the suit has knee pads to prevent too much wear and tear, and look for a spine pad, which reduces water low down the back.
What Style is Right?
Wetsuits are available in two-piece, three-quarters, and full-body styles. The three-quarter wetsuits (shorties) are only practical if you will use it exclusively in warm waters, while two-piece wetsuits can be good for cold water dives. If you plan to dive recreationally and only occasionally, a shorty will be a good option.
A full-body wetsuit is an investment that works great in warm and cold water dives, so it’s what you’ll want if you’re going to be diving very frequently or even making a career out of diving.
While scuba diving and dentistry may seem worlds apart, oral health is actually a very big part of diving. That’s because scuba diving can lead to jaw pain, tooth problems and tissue problems, also known as “diver’s mouth syndrome.” This isn’t the only concern you should have, though.
Diver’s Mouth Syndrome
Diver’s mouth syndrome is caused by your mouthpiece and air pressure change. Did you know most one-size-fits-all diving mouthpieces do not actually fit most adults? These mouthpieces have been the same for more than 70 years, despite known problems. The mouthpiece grip that you bite on can cause jaw joint stress and inflammation, and the heavy regulator that you pull by your teeth can lead to temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ).
The solution? Get a customized regulator rather than a one-size-fits-all piece of equipment to reduce or eliminate these symptoms.
You’re probably very familiar with face squeeze, which can cause bruising of your eyes and face from the mask. You may not be so familiar with tooth squeeze, which is not common but potentially serious. Any holes or cracks in your teeth can potentially cause tooth squeeze (barodontalgia) or even exploding teeth. You’ll know you have tooth squeeze if you feel intense pain in your tooth as you ascent, which happens when bubbles get trapped and expand under cavities, unfinished root canals, abscesses or gum disease.
What About Dentures?
While some dentists believe it’s completely safe to dive with dentures if you are careful, many just aren’t sure. The risk is especially high with partial dentures, which may be swallowed or get lodged in the throat if you get excited.
I couldn’t find a great deal of information about dentures and how they differ from dental implants in terms of diving, so I spoke with Dr. Gallardo of http://www.miamiperio.com/. Dr. Gallardo explained the difference of Dental Implants vs. Dentures in Miami, FL, where he treats a lot of recreational divers. He explained that dentures present several problems for divers and dental implants are a superior option because they actually replace missing teeth and are secured in the jaw or gum. This means they cannot move and there is no risk that the implants will cause choking underwater. Implants are also fairly affordable, so it might be worth it to switch from dentures to implants.
If you do have dentures, remember that dentures are held in place by a small amount of saliva and air trapped between the denture and gums to create a suction. Many divers complain about dry mouth during dives, and this can cause the suction effect to be lost. Even great fitting dentures should be secured extra well before a dive with a gel or paste.
The Bottom Line
Before you go diving, make sure you get a checkup with your dentist to make sure you’re in good shape. Loose fillings or any necessary dental work should be completed before you go diving to minimize the risk of tooth squeeze. If you’re a regular diver, invest in a personalized regulator. For those with dentures, think about upgrading to implants to avoid any hazards under the water.
Have you ever surfaced from a dive to find that tell-tale mask indentation on your face? If so, you probably had mild mask squeeze. While rare, this can get serious after some dives and leave you in a lot of pain with a frightening appearance.
Mask squeeze is caused when air gets trapped against your face, which is necessary to see underwater, of course. When you descend, the air trapped behind your mask behaves like air trapped anywhere else. The farther you go down, the higher the pressure. This pressure increase will cause the air in your mask (and the rest of your body) to compress, which creates a powerful vacuum on your face. If it continues for too long, it can damage your facial tissue and your eyes.
Mask squeeze is most common among beginner scuba divers, but it can really happen to anyone. Here’s what you should know.
Is Mask Squeeze Dangerous?
Fortunately, mask squeeze is rarely dangerous. Even with fairly severe cases of mask squeeze in which you have painful, red eyes and a bruised face, time is all that is necessary to heal the damage.
If you experience any visual disturbances or eye pain, it is important to see a doctor, or even a surgeon. Serious but rare symptoms of mask squeeze include blurred vision and partial loss of vision. If you are experiencing these rare symptoms or the mask squeeze doesn’t clear up in two weeks, it’s time to consult a surgeon.
In very rare cases, this increased pressure on the eyes can even result in ocular decompression sickness and other eye conditions.
Mask squeeze is most dangerous if you have already had surgery on your eyes or your face. I know one woman who went diving just two months after she received facelift plastic surgery in Houston, TX. She assumed she was well enough recovered, but she didn’t consult with her surgeon beforehand. She ended up damaging the tissue on her face and near her eyes from mask squeeze and she needed to see a Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon to fix the damage. If you have had eye surgery or any type of surgery on your sinuses or face, make sure you’re cleared by your doctor or mask squeeze can be very dangerous.
Preventing Mask Squeeze
Mask squeeze is most common among new divers. The best way to prevent mask squeeze is keeping your nasal passages open when you descend. Exhale through your nose and get a mask that fits well to minimize the risk of facial injuries. The mask should fit your face comfortably and create a good seal when you inhale through your nose. It should seal to your face and not fall off even if you don’t have the strap on.
You must equalize air space in your mask when you descend periodically, which prevents the mask from getting suctioned onto your face. Even though mask squeeze is rarely serious, it can cause eye infections and very painful bruising. It’s also easy enough to avoid by following this advice!