The long-awaited holiday is just around the corner and therefore the anticipation rises for your flight to the diving paradises of the earth. But watch out! Some of the flight related conditions affect the diver in a special way. In the following article, Dr. Anke Fabian from aqua med has summarized the most important tips about diving and flying.
Outbound flight: On the outbound flight, time zone shift and jet lag with desynchronisation of the biological rhythm often lead to fatigue and exhaustion with reduced reactivity, and reduced concentration performance. In the case of major time shifts (especially flights to the east), a "resynchronisation" of the biological daily rhythm often occurs only after several days. It is recommended to have at least a good night's sleep between flight and the first dive. Sufficient hydration during the flight should be ensured, as dehydration favours both the deep rush and the decompression sickness.
Return flight: One must assume that after each dive "silent bubbles" are present. After diving it usually takes over 24 hours until a new equilibrium between dissolved inert gas (nitrogen) and atmospheric pressure has been established, i.e. until one is completely desaturated. After an extended diving holiday with many repeat dives (e.g. a diving safari) it may take up to 3 days for the slow tissues (tendons, cartilage, ligaments etc...) to release the residual nitrogen. Since the cabin pressure, depending on the aircraft type, is usually lowered to 0.7 to 0.8 bar, this means for the diver a continued bubbling of residual nitrogen from the slow tissues - similar to mountain lake diving.
Don't let it become a problem Frequently, existing symptoms that were often not judged to be diving accident symptoms (e.g. joint pain, itching of the skin) intensify. Vibrations also have unfavourable effects, especially in small airplanes or helicopters. Imagine a well shaken and then uncorked bottle of champagne. By lowering the cabin pressure, the partial pressure of oxygen also decreases. While healthy people tolerate this without problems, this can become a problem for the sick or a diver who is still heavily saturated with nitrogen. The relative humidity of the cabin air is below 15% and thus promotes further dehydration (drying out) through water loss to the breathing air.
In principle: The longer the time interval between diving and flying, the better. aqua med recommends not to dive in the 24 hours before the flight home. To be on the safe side, the interval is extended to 48 hours after dives which require decompression, extended repeat dives or missed decostops.
Just in case The return transport after a decompression accident mustn't happen for at least 48 hours after all symptoms have subsided, depending on the recommendation of the diving doctor. Flight transport to treatment pressure chambers should only take place with 100% oxygen breathing either in a Lear jet of the rescue service (cabin pressure 1 bar) or in a helicopter with a maximum flight altitude of 300 m.