When my wife told me she wanted us to get our open water scuba certification, I was kinda bummed out. We had talked about this a few years earlier but I had been told that scuba diving with asthma was not possible and that the chance of surviving with lifelong asthma was grim. But that was a few years ago and newer studies have changed doctors overall opinion on asthmatics diving. After finding the new studies saying I may be able to actually survive, I convinced myself to give it a shot and see what it was like in a controlled environment.
My wife and daughter went ahead with their training and got certified so I had access to some diving equipment. I really thought I could do it, so I decided to hit the pool with her BCD, mask, scuba tank and regulator and just see if I could manage breathing underwater.
Into the pool I went. Managing the equipment was hard but I knew all I had to do was stand up if I had trouble, and that went a long way to make me feel more in control. At first it was an odd feeling to breathe through the contraption. I noticed how clean the air tasted and how the cool air really was easy to breathe. The pressure wasn’t uncomfortable and I didn’t notice any issues. I stayed in the pool underwater after all the equipment was adjusted until the tank ran out of air. I think that is the best I have breathed in years. Yep, I was hooked, and this began a magnificent hobby for my wife and I to share.
Here are a 10 things I recommend if you are thinking about diving with asthma.
1) Go to see a Asthma doctor that is experienced with divers – this is required to get certified and will make you feel better about your ability to dive.
2) Start in a pool with all the dive gear until you are comfortable.
3) Carry your asthma rescue inhaler – you can't use it underwater but you may need it back up on the surface. Let everyone you dive with know where it is and how to help you use it if needed.
4) Watch your air – asthmatics have tissue scarring in the lungs. You will be air hogs in the water when you begin diving. My wife purchased larger tanks for me so we get about the same dive time. You will get better on air consumption as you get more experience in the water.
4) Get a good instructor and let the instructor and your dive buddy know that you have asthma and where you keep your inhaler.
5) Try Nitrox! - without a doubt this is the best air I have ever had in my life. It is incredible to breathe.
6) Get you tanks filled with a reputable shop that filters the air. There are lots of places to get the tanks filled and not all use a good system. Do not get caught underwater with bad air!
7) get a Nautilus lifeline - I would not dive in open water without it
9) Don't dive if you are having issues with your Asthma that day.
10) Dive often.
I live in South Florida and I have been diving for a over a year now. I have my advanced open water certification and I am a active diver. I am not giving medical advice, nor am I a doctor. I speak only from my personal experiences.