Asthma and Scuba Diving

Hi guys,

I'm quite a mild asthmatic and more often then not exercise induces wheezing and if i dont take my inhaler it can get quite severe. However I have been travelling alot and get constantly tempted by scuba diving, has anyone been scuba diving with asthma? How did it effect your asthma? Should i be avoiding it completely or is it possible?

Any genuine opinions would be greatly appreciated x

7 Replies

  • I REALLY want to go scuba diving but unfortunately as an asthmatic with exercise as one of my triggers my doc wont write me a letter saying i can do it and no diving school near where i live will let you have lessons as an asthmatic unless your GP says its ok :( and you dont want to not tell the place your learning in case you are struggling and they would not know what to do, or be annoyed because they were not told before. sorry, im trying to get my lungs fitter so maybe someday i'll be allowed. hope this is helpfull!

  • I've always wanted to try diving so I'm curious to see what replies you get. From what I've read (which isn't a great deal to be honest) you need to have well controlled asthma to be allowed to dive, and they would probably want it in writing from a medical professional. Also in some countries having asthma means that you won't be allowed to dive, no matter how well controlled your asthma is. Have you tried taking your inhaler before you exercise to prevent symptoms? If you can't exercise without having asthma symptoms there's a good chance that scuba diving is not for you, it's not like you can take your inhaler underwater. It's probably worth a chat to you GP/asthma nurse to see if you can bring your exercise induced asthma under control.

  • I went on holiday to Australia recently and no where there would they let me dive with asthma. They were even a bit iffy about snorkeling, but the awesome company we went with let me snorkel as long as I had one-to-one support (I do have other medical issues which came into this, so not just asthma) which they provided at no extra cost and it actually worked out brilliantly as she basically acted as a guide to me and knew the best places to go whilst everyone else had to stay together as a group.

  • Hi, I have been asthmatic for as long as I can remember! My asthma isn't triggered by exercise or temperature change. I am a Padi Rescue Diver, but I ensure I have a dive medical annually with a certified British Dive Doctor. He does lots of breathing tests and is really thorough. Diving with asthma isn't impossible but you have to really research it properly and go to a doctor who knows what they are on about. I have dived all over the world but I don't think that I will ever dive the Barrier Reef, as the Australians wont take you diving if you have asthma. Don't give up on it, but be careful!

  • I did find a guideline on the British Thoracic Society's website about diving safety in lung disease (so not just asthma) you can read it here

  • Ive looked into this quite a bit. Im a Biology graduate and i really want to go into marine biology, which means i basically need to learn to dive. There is lots of mixed advice and opinion out there about asthmatics diving, but in the UK asthmatics are allowed to dive. You need to be signed off by a doctor first though. Your regular docotr will almost certainly not sign you off as fit to dive for risk of being sued, so you need to find yourself a registered dive doctor. This is as far as i have got, so im in the process of making an appointment. From what i have read they will do some comprehensive tests to see if you are fit, which should put your mind at rest, not to mention the minds of your family if they are anything like mine who think im nuts to want to dive with asthma. Quite a few of my friends dive already and i know one is asthmatic and lied on her health form. This seems like a stupid thing to do since if you really are fit to dive you will get signed off by a dive doctor, and if you are not then you could die which doesnt seem worth it! I suggested that i might lie on the form to a friend who is a dive instructor and he reminded me that if you do that then you are also endangering the life of your dive buddy. Good luck to all of you hoping to dive and i hope this helps!

  • Hi,

    I've never done it (wish I had now while the asthma was hiding) but got curious and looked it up the other day when I was bored. The impression I got was that they don't like exercise-induced asthma because it could be brought on just by the diving - they don't mind the allergic sort so much because you're unlikely to encounter common triggers like dust, cats or pollen underwater! However, I think if you're asthmatic you will need to see a dive doctor and they'll make you do a test to see if it's caused by exercise/consider any other factors.

    There are forums where you can ask dive doctors questions - google it for UK maybe, then you can look around and perhaps ask what the situation might be. There was a very approachable guy on one of them who ran the site and was happy to ask questions, so perhaps you could email/post a message and say 'this is my situation, is it worth me even paying for a medical or would you just turn me down flat?' No point in going to all the hassle if they're just going to say no anyway, but worth asking perhaps if it's mild - I definitely would if it was the way it used to be, very mild EIA and I could swim with it fine.

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