Scuba diving is one of the most fun and exciting activities in the world. But after you’ve been traveling by plane, it can be hard to know if it’s safe to dive. Is there a risk of decompression sickness (DCS)? What kind of factors need to be considered? Here are some tips on when it’s safe to scuba dive after flying, plus signs that might indicate you should wait before hitting the water.
It depends on how long your flight is:
The answer to “Can I scuba dive after flying?” depends on how long your flight is. If you’re flying for less than eight hours, you should be fine. But if it’s more than eight hours and up to 12 hours, there are certain precautions to take.
If your flight is longer than 12 hours and up to 16 hours then it is definitely not safe for you yet. You’ll have to wait at least 24 hours before diving again after reaching shore from a long trip like this one (unless otherwise approved by a physician).
It depends on where you’re traveling to and from:
If you’re flying to a high-altitude destination, like the Rocky Mountains or Colorado, then yes, you will need to decompress after flying. This is because there’s less oxygen at higher altitudes than at lower ones. If you don’t decompress when coming from these places down into sea level areas (or vice versa), it can cause “the bends” which can be painful and even deadly if not treated properly. Make sure that your dive shop knows about your plan before leaving!
If you are flying somewhere with low-altitude destinations around it (like most tropical islands), then no, you probably don’t need to decompress after flying there either (unless those destinations were at high altitudes themselves). Other than needing more time between dives while snorkeling and swimming around these areas due to their warmer temperatures slowing down our bodies ability to process nitrogen bubbles as quickly as they would elsewhere
It depends on how much time you have at altitude:
The more time you spend at altitude, the more time you will have to spend decompressing. The longer the flight, the more time you will have to spend decompressing. For example: If your flight is four hours long, and it takes one hour for a single dive with no stops (the standard method), then that means that between flights there are three hours of decompression time required before diving again—assuming this is your first dive after flying. It’s also worth noting that if your destination is higher than sea level—for example, if you’re going diving in Colorado or California—you may need additional decompression stops on top of those required by standard US procedures
It depends on how deep you’re going to dive:
How much time you need to decompress depends on how deep you’re going to dive. The deeper you dive, the more time it will take for your body to adjust back up to surface pressure.
If you’re planning on diving in a warm-water destination, where depths are usually less than 30 feet (9 meters), then there’s no need to worry about decompression procedures at all.
But if you plan on diving in cold water or somewhere deeper than 30 feet (9 meters), then it’s important that you understand what “decompressing” means and why it’s necessary for scuba divers.
It depends on what kind of plane you’re flying in:
Your next question is probably: “How long do I need to wait until I can dive?”
If you’re flying in a pressurized plane, like an airliner or business jet, you’ll be fine. Your body will adjust to the lower pressure and your ears will pop shortly after takeoff. If the cabin wasn’t pressurized at all (a non-pressurized airplane), then it’s time to start thinking about whether or not diving is something that makes sense for you at this moment. If so, then get ready for a little decompression diving as well!
It depends on whether or not you need to decompress along the way:
The answer is a bit complicated. If you’re flying in a pressurized cabin, such as an airplane or a pressurized space shuttle, then you don’t need to decompress at all. Your body has already been exposed to higher than normal pressures and has already adjusted for them.
However, if your flight is taking place in a non-pressurized cabin (like most commercial air travel), then there’s still hope! It just depends on how high up you were when the plane lost its pressure. If it was only around 10,000 feet (3 kilometers) above sea level when this happened, then chances are good that your body has already adjusted itself appropriately—you can probably dive right after getting off the plane without any problems! However, if it was between 12 and 14 kilometers above sea level when the pressure dropped out completely, then things get tricky because there’s no way for our bodies to adjust themselves so quickly enough for safe diving conditions before we start experiencing symptoms of decompression sickness like nausea or joint pain after about 15 minutes of being submerged underwater (which isn’t long enough).
There are a few general rules of thumb to follow when determining if it’s safe to dive after flying:
If you’re at all unsure about whether or not it’s safe to dive after flying, ask your doctor. If they say it’s fine, then great! You’re good to go. If they say “no,” then try asking your dive instructor instead. Or maybe even your travel agent; they might know something that doctors don’t! They may be able to advise you on whether or not it’s safe for you to dive after flying—and help with other questions too (like “What are my chances of getting bumped from the flight?”).
If that doesn’t work out either…well, there’s always the airline itself! You could give them a call and see if there are any restrictions in place regarding scuba diving after flying on their planes—if so, this would probably be helpful information for planning future trips as well.
Lastly: check with your local dive shop about how often divers have been known to get sick during their flights or when traveling long distances in general (more than 1 hour).
If you do decide to dive, keep an eye out for any symptoms of decompression sickness (DCS):
Decompression sickness is a condition that can occur when you come up too quickly after scuba diving. It’s also called “the bends.” The symptoms include joint pain and neurological issues, such as tingling and numbness in the arms or legs. There are three types of DCS:
- Type I — mild symptoms, usually lasting less than 24 hours
- Type II — severe symptoms that last longer than 24 hours but resolve within 96 hours (four days)
- Type III — severe symptoms that last longer than 96 hours
You can dive after flying, but you need to be sure that it’s safe for you.
Do you know what’s not good for you? Getting severe decompression sickness (DCS) and/or an oxygen embolism from diving too soon after flying. If this happens, the symptoms will include:
- severe headache or migraine-like pain in the back of your head or neck
- difficulty breathing
- muscle weakness, joint pain or cramps (usually in arms and legs), sometimes progressing to paralysis.
Conclusion: Can you scuba dive after flying?
I would say that it’s safe to dive after flying, but you need to be sure that it’s safe for you. If you’re planning on diving for an extended time period or going deeper than 100 feet, then I would ask your doctor before doing so. In most cases though, if you follow these simple rules and don’t have any underlying medical issues then there shouldn’t be a problem!