Diving Distination

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The effects of dehydration on divers

Scuba diving is an activity that has an unbreakable link with the water. The total immersion of the body in water takes us back to the first moment of our life, in the womb. Scuba diving thus allows us to evolve in a liquid environment to discover a new world full of mystery. Water is thus an integral part of this activity both from an external point of view (the environment in which we evolve) but also from an internal point of view. Indeed, many exchanges of liquids take place in our body during immersion. What are they and what are the consequences?

What are the mechanisms and consequences of immersion in the diver?

During immersion, the hydrostatic pressure of the water exerted on the body, will direct the blood of the limbs towards the thorax area. This displacement of blood leads to anatomical changes that will result in the triggering of diuresis, i.e. the secretion of urine. During immersion, the urine flow is six times greater than in a normal situation. This phenomenon is accentuated by difficult underwater diving conditions, especially in cold water. Under these conditions, should you pee or not in your wetsuit?.

What is dehydration?

Dehydration is a phenomenon that occurs when the body's loss of water: sweating, urine, stool... is greater than the number of fluids that can be ingested. The best-known sign of dehydration is the color of your urine. If it is a light color, it means good hydration; on the contrary, if it is a dark color, it is time to drink because dehydration is close. If you are thirsty, it means that your body is already dehydrated. The worst thing for a diver is to become dehydrated while surrounded by billions of liters of water.

How important is hydration while diving?

Blood contributes to nutrient transport and gas exchange. Dehydration causes the blood to thicken and reduces blood flow. This thickening of the blood impedes the elimination of nitrogen, thus increasing the risk of developing decompression sickness.

How can I stay well hydrated?

The ideal is to drink a regular 15 ml glass of water every 15 minutes. If the need arises, this alert mechanism warns us that it is time to hydrate quickly.

- In children, the sensation of thirst appears when they have already lost 3% of their water stock.

- In adults, the sensation of thirst appears when they have lost 3 to 5% of their water stock.

- In people over 70 years of age, the sensation of thirst appears when they have already lost 5 to 7% of their water stock.

What to drink?

To be properly hydrated, it is imperative to drink only water. Indeed, coffee, tea, herbal teas or other soft drinks should be avoided because their water balance is nil. Alcohol is even worse since it is a powerful diuretic. In addition to leading to a negative water balance, it aggravates dehydration.

How can dehydration be prevented?

There are several methods to alleviate the dehydration symptom before, during and after a dive.

- Do not put on a wetsuit too early

- Respect the surface intervals

- Do not abuse sun exposure.

- Do not drink alcohol

- Adapt your water consumption according to the climatic conditions of your location.

With all these advices you should be operational for your next diving cruise or diving trip!

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