Medical Fitness for recreational diving
There are medical problems that either increase the risk of scuba
diving or are likely to be very dangerous for the diver. All
recreational diving training agencies will require students to
complete a medical screening questionnaire prior to any in-water
activity. Any student that answers positively to any of the
questions will then need to be certified as fit to dive by a doctor.
The commonest used questionnaire is the
Recreational Scuba Training Council's medical statement
(updated July 2020.)
Qualified divers will increasingly find themselves being asked to complete these medical statements prior to diving by dive clubs, holiday dive centres, liveaboard dive boats. Insurance companies may also require a fitness to dive certificate signed by a doctor if the diver has any medical problems.
The training agencies will require a medical certificate less than one year old, and existing divers will also find that their medical certificate must be within a year.
Fitness for recreational diving with no medical problems
Although the usual requirement is to only need a medical
certificate signed by a doctor if the diver has medical problems
there are a few exceptions to this.
France, Spain and their territories require all divers to have a doctor signed fitness certificate annually, although this is not always enforced locally.
Some divers, very sensibly, decide that they should have an annual check-up for diving, especially if they are over the age of 45. Blood pressure and lung function testing can often reveal problems that the individual might be totally unaware of.
Fitness for recreational diving with asthma
It is important that the diver's respiratory system is in good
health. The diver needs to breath compressed gases which expand on
ascent in the water. If gas cannot be easily exhaled then lung
over-expansion may occur, resulting in lung damage and gas embolism.
Both are potentially extremely dangerous for the diver.
Therefore, anyone currently or previously suffering with asthma requires formal evaluation of their lung function with spirometry both before and after an exercise test.
Fitness for recreational diving with diabetes
Diabetes presents several issues for diving. Firstly there are the problems caused by the diabetes - increased risks of heart, kidney, eye, vascular and nerve damage. Any of these could lead to additional problems whilst scuba diving. Secondly there are problems potentially caused by the treatments - hypoglycaemia. Hypoglycaemia underwater is extremely serious. Therefore, anyone with diabetes needs careful assessment, advice and information on the increased risks. There is a useful article on diabetes and diving and advice available on the UKDMC website (click here.)
Fitness for recreational diving in France
It is a legal requirement in France that all divers must have an annual medical check-up for diving and a doctor's certificate. If the diver also has medical problems then the relevant fitness to dive medical is required.
Fitness for recreational diving in Spain and its territories
It used to be a legal requirement in Spain and its territories
that all divers must have an annual medical check-up for diving and
a doctor's certificate. However, in July 2020 a new law (Real
Decreto 550/2020) was passed and divers need only complete the World
Recreational Scuba Training Council's (WRSTC) medical statement. As
long as all answers are 'No' then no medical examination is needed.
If there are any 'Yes' answers then a certificate from a doctor will
be required. If the diver has medical problems then the relevant
fitness to dive medical is required.
This new law states that children aged 8 - 9 can only have simple dive experiences to 6m, children aged 10 -11 can commence training to 12m, and from 13- 15 to 21m. You should check with the dive centre that you will be diving with for further details.
Fitness for recreational diving in Australia
Australia may require divers to have medical certificates issued to their AS4005.1 standard. A hearing test is a requirement of this medical. These standards do not allow those with asthma or other respiratory illness to dive.
Fitness for freediving
Freediving involves immersion in water and significant periods of apnoea. Like scuba diving this has implications for the cardiovascular and neurological systems. Those wishing to participate in freediving need to be aware of the risks and have a medical assessment if they have any medical problems.
Have a question about fitness to dive?
Many people will have questions about their suitability to participate in diving before they book an assessment. General advice is available free of charge but no certificates of fitness to dive can be issued without an individual assessment. For complex medical problems a fee will be quoted following the screening telephone call / email prior to booking the appointment.
Learning to dive with BSAC?
The British Sub Aqua Club is another way to learn to dive and mix
with fellow divers. They have a similar method of medically
screening their members but anyone with positive answers must seek
certification from a
Medical Referee. Some referees will issue certificate following
the diver sending them full details about their medical problems.
The period of validity of these certificates can be for a limited
period to indefinitely.
I will only issue certificates following an individual assessment and examination. The relevant medical will need to be booked e.g. "Asthma", "Diabetes" "Basic". For complex medical problems a fee will be quoted following the screening telephone call / email prior to booking the appointment.