I am 15 years old and I would like to dive in the summer. Is there any danger? Do I really need a doctor's certificate? Who has any experiences with this sport?
A medical clearance is needed for any individual who wants to take part in the sport of scuba diving. With regard to the individual who has diabetes, diabetes is an absolute contraindication for scuba diving. When I use the term absolute contraindication, I am referring to a condition that may place a diver at increased risk for injury or death. There are also relative contraindications that may be resolved with time and proper medical intervention. What makes diabetes an absolute contraindication for scuba diving is the potentially rapid change in level of consciousness associated with hypoglycemia in those individuals who take insulin or oral medication. This rapid change in level of consciousness may lead to drowning.
One last point I would like to make: when speaking with the Divers Alert Network, it was brought to my attention that even though diving is considered an absolute contraindication to scuba diving, there may in fact be some individuals with diabetes who are in good control who may very well be capable of partaking in the sport. There is some current research going on at Duke University Medical Center with regard to Diabetes and Diving. Maybe this will give us some insight in dealing with or preventing hypoglycemic events related to scuba diving.
At the present, standardized guidelines for diabetes and diving in the United States have not been published.
- NAUI (909) 621-5801
- Diver Alert Network (919) 684-2948
- Scuba Diving and Diabetes. Diabetes Care, Vol 18, number 7, July 1995.
- Brown, C. Diabetes and Diving. NAUI News, May 1978, p.6.
- Scuba Diving and Diabetes. AJDC, Vol. 141, June 1987.
- The DAN Diabetes Survey. Alert Diver May/June 1993.
- Diving with Diabetes Dan Launches Research into Current Guidelines. Alert Diver November/December 1996.
- Diabetes and Diving: DAN is there to help explore the issue. Alert Diver January/February 1995.
- Ugiccioni, Donna M., DAN Research; Dovenbarger, Joel, DAN Director of Medical Services. The Diabetes Question: "Diving safely" and "insulin-dependent" may not be mutually exclusive terms. Alert Diver January/February 1996.
- Lisle-Dear, Guy, M.B., FRCA, DAN Assistant Medical Director. Diabetes and Current Practices. Alert Diver January/February 1997.
[Editor's comment: Until experts are convinced that it is safe for individuals with diabetes to scuba dive, I think it is best for you to avoid the risks as discussed above.
Original posting 21 May 97
Additional references added 25 May 97
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