In a hot and humid climate like Koh Tao’s it is easy to become dehydrated while scuba diving. In this article we will look how diving and dehydration effects our bodies, what contributes to it, and how to prevent it.
Dehydration’s Impact on Scuba Diving
Impaired Cognitive Function: Scuba diving demands a high level of concentration and decision-making. Dehydrated divers may experience cognitive impairment, leading to poor judgment and slower reaction times. This can be particularly hazardous when navigating through underwater currents or handling emergency situations.
Increased Risk of Decompression Sickness: Dehydration can lead to an increased risk of decompression sickness (DCS). DCS occurs when nitrogen bubbles form in the body’s tissues as a result of rapid ascent after a dive. Dehydrated tissues can absorb more nitrogen, making divers more susceptible to this painful and potentially life-threatening condition.
Reduced Physical Performance: Dehydration can cause muscle cramps and reduce physical endurance and divers are more at risk of legs which is why skills are included in the open water course. In the demanding environment of scuba diving, where divers often need to swim against currents and carry heavy equipment, physical performance is crucial for safety as well over all enjoyment.
Factors Contributing to Dehydration in Scuba Diving
There are several factors that can contribute to dehydration in scuba diving, some of which are unique to the underwater environment:
Drysuit Use: Divers using drysuits may sweat due to the thermal insulation they provide and because of our hot and humid conditions. This excess sweat can lead to significant fluid loss during the dive. On Koh Tao there is no need for a drysuit but when diving elsewhere it should be thought about.
Limited Access to Fluids: Once underwater, divers have limited access to fluids. You cannot drink water while diving, and even on the surface. Well, you can but it might be a bit salty. In between dives it may not be readily available so you should plan to bring enough for yourself just incase. Although most dives tend to be around 40 minutes, it can feel like a long time if you become very thirsty.
Humidity in Breathing Gas: The air divers breathe through their scuba tanks is filtered to remove moisture and often feels dry to breathe and can contribute to dehydration. The dry air can lead to increased respiratory water loss as your body moves fluids from other parts of your body to the lungs to compensate for the dry air.
Stress and Anxiety: Scuba diving can be a stressful activity, as well as physically demanding especially for inexperienced divers or in challenging diving conditions. Stress and anxiety can increase sweating and accelerate fluid loss. Koh Tao diving conditions are very easy compared to other places but it is something to consider. And if you are on one of our Koh Tao diving courses there is a lot of thinking and learning which can also lead to stress.
Preventing Dehydration in Scuba Diving
To mitigate the risks associated with dehydration while scuba diving, divers should adopt several proactive measures:
Hydrate Before Diving: Divers should start their day well-hydrated and avoid alcohol and caffeine the night before, which can contribute to dehydration. We all know that divers and beer go well together. While it is OK to have a couple of drinks the night before, an all night party is a definite no no.
Having a beer at the end of the days diving, that is just part of the course. And we always have coffee on the boat, especially useful in the morning when you have an early start. But everything should be in moderation.
Monitor Fluid Intake: Consume water or electrolyte-rich drinks in the hours leading up to the dive. You can buy electrolyte powders and drinks at many shops on Koh Tao. It’s important not to overhydrate, as this can lead to a different set of problems, but maintaining a balanced fluid intake is key.
Coconut water is a great source of electrolytes and essential minerals so treat yourself to a fresh coconut drink which are readily available in restaurants and fruit stalls.
Hydration During Surface Intervals: During surface intervals between dives, divers should continue to drink fluids to replenish the body’s hydration levels during a surface interval. That cup of coffee will taste better after a dive but you should drink at least half a liter of fluids after a dive, not just a coffee.
Choose Appropriate Gear: Consider using a rash vests instead of wetsuits in warm water conditions to reduce sweating and over heating. Or remove your wetsuit in between dives if its warm. For many months of the year the waters around Koh Tao are warm enough that you don’t need any kind of thermal protection.
Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to signs of dehydration during your dive, such as excessive thirst or dry mouth. If you experience these symptoms you are probably dehydrated already, so when your dive is over be sure to drink plenty of water.
Plan Adequate Rest and Recovery: Fatigue can exacerbate the effects of dehydration. Ensure you get enough rest between dives and avoid pushing your physical limits. There’s nothing wrong with a power nap if time permits. The same applies if you go out the night before and don’t get enough quality sleep.
Diving and Dehydration Conclusion
Scuba diving is a remarkable adventure that allows individuals to explore the hidden wonders of the underwater world. However, it’s crucial to recognize the potential dangers of dehydration while engaging in this activity.
Dehydration can impair cognitive function, increase the risk of decompression sickness, and reduce physical performance, all of which can compromise diver safety.
As a scuba diver, you must prioritize proper hydration before, during, and after your dives. By understanding the factors that contribute to dehydration and taking proactive measures to stay hydrated. Divers can minimize the risks associated with this condition and enjoy their underwater adventures safely.
Always remember that safety should be the top priority, and a well-hydrated body is a fundamental aspect of safe and enjoyable scuba diving.
Want To Know More About Koh Tao Diving?
Do you want to know more about a Koh Tao diving course? Feel free to contact us and one of our team of dive professionals will answer any questions quickly to see what scuba program is right for you. We have a variety of diving courses available with the SSI diving training organization.
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Find out more about the SSI diver training agency here: Dive SSI