Experienced, recreational scuba divers in Australia continue to dive despite medical contra-indications.

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Experienced, recreational scuba divers in Australia continue to dive despite medical contra-indications.

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Title: Experienced, recreational scuba divers in Australia continue to dive despite medical contra-indications.
Author: Taylor, DMcD; O’Toole, KS; Ryan, CM
Abstract: Objective: In Australia, a medical examination is required prior to undertaking a scuba diving course in order to screen for contra-indications to diving. No further medical screening is required, yet divers may develop diseases during their diving careers. This study aimed to survey experienced recreational scuba divers to determine the prevalence of diseases contra-indicated in diving. Methods: A cross-sectional, postal survey of divers belonging to scuba diving clubs across Australia. Results: 346 divers returned completed questionnaires. 254 (73.4%) were male and 258 (74.6%) were aged 31–60 years. The mean years of diving was 10.6 ± 9.18 years and the mean number of dives undertaken was 414 ± 740 dives. 162 (46.8%) divers were overweight, 45 (13.0%) divers required regular medication and 39 (11.3%) divers smoked. 36 (10.4%) divers reported a past or present history of asthma and the same number reported hypertension or coronary heart disease. 86 (24.9%) divers reported past or present psychological symptoms. 42 (12.1%) divers reported hearing difficulties and 81 (23.5%) divers reported past or present tinnitus. Two divers had a past history of epilepsy, two had a history of pneumothorax and one diver was diabetic. Conclusions: Experienced, recreational scuba divers continue to dive despite medical contra-indications. This raises the questions: Did the divers fail to disclose these conditions at the initial examination or did these conditions develop subsequently? Is the risk associated with these conditions clinically significant or should screening examinations be undertaken at regular intervals? The high prevalence of hearing difficulties and tinnitus may be the result of aural barotrauma and requires further research. (reprinted with permission from: Wilderness Environ Med. 2002 Fall;13(3):187-93.)
Description: Journal of the South Pacific Underwater Medicine Society.
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/7646
Date: 2002

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