While it is a highly enjoyable activity, scuba diving does come with its own share of risks. There’s a reason it is considered amongst the most dangerous activities you can take part in if not correctly prepared and trained. From bubbles in your blood to increased pressure on the heart, let’s take a look at how scuba diving affects the body.
During scuba diving, if you notice that you are feeling too cold and begin to shiver, then you are at a risk of hypothermia.
When the water is colder than your body temperature, blood will be taken to the vitals around your chest area. The shivering is the body response to your falling body temperature and is an early warning sign that things could go terribly wrong. Note: Even warm seawater is cooler than your normal body temperature of around 37C or 98.6F.
This is why it is important to wear a wetsuit during scuba diving. A better way to deal with the cold is to get out of the water safely as soon as you notice that you are starting to shiver.
There are air spaces in your skull as well as air pockets in your ears. During scuba diving, the increased pressure from the water will squeeze the air in these pockets which results in pain.
To handle the situation, divers will close their noses with their fingers and blow air gently. This is known as equalization and will reduce the pain when done correctly.
Keep in mind that if you have a sinus infection or flu, blowing air into these spaces can be difficult making it harder to equalize.
When the water is very near to the temperature of the body, there is a gradient which causes the blood to be taken to the chest. The heart pumps a lot more blood and the chambers expand. This also results in increased overall blood pressure.
But here’s the interesting bit, baroreceptors in your blood vessels lowers the functions of the sympathetic nervous system. These are the nerves that cause the fight or flight response. What then follows is a lowered heart rate. There is also the secretion of more sodium from your kidneys with an increase in urine production.
There are some risks that come with too much exertion while scuba diving underwater such as muscle cramps. It’s imperative that you remain aware of your body’s physical limitations and not push yourself too hard.
Breathing while under pressure causes vasoconstriction from the high levels of oxygen. There are high amounts of carbon dioxide as a result of the strenuous physical exertion. The significantly less pulmonary ventilation heightens the risk of getting blood to your brain resulting in oxygen toxicity.