diving and undersea medicine for the non-medical diver, the non-diving
physician and the specialist.
Headaches and Diving
Headaches at Depth
Frontal, sphenoid, maxillary, mastoid sinuses
headache syndromes and positions. Associated with nosebleeds, nausea.
Usually located in and around the ear but can
cervical and centrally located. Associated with nausea, vertigo and
Related to poor caries repair, incomplete
or any process where air remains and can cause implosion and expansion.
Pain referred into the jaw, neck, sinuses and centrally.
Headaches on Ascent
Due to skip breathing, gear malfunction,
Causes a "sick headache" type of generalized pain and can be associated
with nausea and vomiting. The tendency to retain CO2 may be suspected
divers who frequently experience post-dive headaches or pride
on low air-use rates.
Caused by poorly fitting regulator
mouthpiece, TMJ arthritis,
stress with clamping of teeth. Pain can be located in jaw, temporal
posterior cervical neck, or referred to other areas of the face and
May be associated with tinnitus (ringing in the ear).
-Snorkel pressure when placed under the mask
-Mask squeeze with pain in and around the
-Pressure from the tank valves on the
-Choking from a dry suit neck seal that is
(as from a neck seal in a diver who has gained significant weight) and
has obstructed or blocked neck veins. The arterial supply would
with buildup of venous pressure from obstruction of the jugular
Neck position (cervical arthritis)
This is seen more frequently in older divers
any significant arthritis of the neck. Because of the prone horizontal
position, the neck is continually extended (looking up position and
can cause severe neck pain with occipital radiation (radiating into the
back of the head).
Contaminated air (CO
Associated with nausea, malaise and vomiting,
is another "sick headache" that only gradually goes away with ascending
and breathing uncontaminated air or oxygen. It is usually associated
more serious signs and symptoms of hypoxia and decrease of
Continuation of the headaches
sinus and middle ear squeeze
Sinus and middle ear swelling, edema and
act to block the openings to the nose and as the diver ascends, there
an enlargement of any air pockets with severe pain - usually
by the diver as a boring localized headache that often is referred to
entire face and head.
Exertional headaches, Swimmer's migraine,
These headaches are reported in the
literature and are
generally thought to be due to combinations of cold, immersion and
Swimming Induced Vascular headache
Benign exertional headaches induced by swimming
Swimming headache followed by exertional and coital headaches.
Migraine can be brought on by diving and can
caused by other things - mainly decompression accidents.
Headache is not a prominent symptom of
illness but can be associated with cerebral syndromes related to
of cranial nerves.
Any of the above; most
and CO2 retention.