Heartburn and Peptic Disease
If you have a severe
case of heartburn every time you
and it gets worse on ascending to the surface, you probably have
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Remember Boyle's Law--air
sacs decrease in size as pressure is increased and increase in size as
pressure is decreased. What is happening is that you are swallowing air
subconsciously as you try to equalize during the dive. As you do this
depth due to the small up and down movements in the water column, you
putting air into your stomach. As you ascend to the surface, your lower
esophageal sphincter is being overwhelmed by the expanding air in your
This is a very common
complaint and it doesn't
mean you have a serious problem--unless you have it while not diving.
might possibly go to your MD and be sure everything is OK---if so you
manage this yourself with several easy maneuvers.
eat a big meal and then dive.
some medication along on the trip that will cut down on acid
Pepsid, Tagamet or Zantac.
along a bottle of of antacid tablets and take several before each dive.
Many divers are prone to
this problem and find that
greatest problem is on the second dive--usually after eating gas
producing dive boat food! It's best to eat less food and try not to
food down with liquids--during which most air is swallowed.
One other cause of this
problem is an alpha blocker
that causes relaxation of the sphincter (muscle); "Hytrin" or
a mild blood pressure drug that's also used for prostate problems can
cause heart burn as well as nasal congestion.
Try these simple tricks
and I think your dives will
Peptic Ulcer Disease
Peptic ulcer disease is
now known to be caused by a
but still occurs frequently enough to be a relative hazard to the
The main problem with scuba divers is that the diver is very often in
areas far from definitive medical care. Perforations under these
can be disastrous.
If surgery has been
performed, post-operative wait
returning to diving should be at least three months and there should be
no evidence of air-trapping in the abdominal cavity or gut. There
be no possibility of obstruction to the gastric outlet that might lead
to vomiting underwater and drowning or to panic ascents with
barotrauma and air embolism.
gastrointestinal barotrauma in a scuba diver.
Hayden JD; Davies JB; Martin IG, Division of Surgery,
Centre for Digestive Diseases, The General Infirmary at Leeds. Br J
Med, 32(1):75-6 1998 Mar
A fit young man sustained a
ruptured diaphragm during a recreational scuba dive three months after
undergoing an uncomplicated laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication for
reflux disease. It is proposed that this rare occurrence was
to gastrointestinal barotrauma. The injury was treated by laparotomy,
of herniated abdominal viscera back into the abdomen, repair of the
and gastropexy. He made a full postoperative recovery. It is concluded
that scuba diving should be avoided in patients who have undergone