Can You Scuba Dive After Flying

Can You Scuba Dive After Flying? Yes, and Here's How to Do it

By Sophia the SeaMonster on Dec 31, 2022

The debate about flying after diving or diving after flying always ends with declaring the former a troublesome practice. But then, your generosity with yourself or for those you’re concerned about clicks your heart, and the latter idea emerges in no time.

In this article, I will explain both concepts and which one you should avoid and why. So, let’s dive straight into it!

Can You Scuba Dive After Flying? The Simple Answer

Yes, you can. There are no potential risks associated with diving after coming down from altitude. However, ensure proper hydration during your trip. Dehydration causes muscle cramping, fatigue, increased heart rate, blood pressure, and confusion. All that leads to more physical and mental exertion and thereby affect your scuba tank’s longevity.

Diving After Flying Or Flying After Diving: Which Is Riskier?

Now that the answer to the former is clear: You can dive after flying. Let’s look at why flying after diving could be a bad idea.

The only trouble you face when flying at altitude is related to nitrogen gas. And the issue is diagnosed as ‘decompression sickness (DCS),’ which can be fatal in extreme cases. So let’s explore the science behind it.

When you scuba dive, your body accumulates nitrogen build-up, which needs to be expelled before going at altitude. Why? Assuming you don’t know, nitrogen is a gas whose uptake and release by our body are affected by pressure. So when we’re at altitude, atmospheric pressure decreases with respect to what we had at sea level. Yep, that is true that the aircraft cabins are pressurized, but in them, the pressure ranges between 11 and 12 PSI (0,76-0,83 BAR). But at sea level, the pressure is about 14, 5 PSI (1 BAR). This difference is enough for the tiny residual nitrogen bubbles to expand and cause DCS, and you don’t want that to happen.

Turns out, nitrogen build-up must be expelled to a healthy amount before reaching altitude. On average, it takes 12-24 hours for nitrogen to return to normal surface levels in our body. This is the safest timespan to hold on to before flying.

Regarding the hours required on land before going to altitude, Professional Association for Diving Instructors (PADI) currently states that you need 12 hours before you fly if you do one dive and 18 hours if you're doing multiple dives over multiple days. So, for example, if you've been diving for a week and you're flying out at 3 PM, you can dive safely up to 9 PM the day before. But if you give yourself a full day or more, you’ll be on a more cautious side.

Professional Flying After Dives Guidelines Before Your Last Dive

Divers Alert Network (DAN) - At least 12 hours

Special Security Instruction (SSI) - At least 24 hours

US Air Force - At least 24 hours

Final Thought

So, I tried to ensure your diving ventures aren’t affecting your altitude journeys and vice versa. So, stick to the guidelines, and you’ll thank me one day. Wishing you the best of luck the next time you go by air to your dream destination for diving!

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