Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Scuba diving subjects the body to increased pressure, which allows more nitrogen to dissolve in body tissues and fluids. The reduction of atmospheric pressure that accompanies flying can produce physical problems for scuba divers. Reducing the pressure too quickly allows small bubbles of nitrogen to form inside the body as the gas comes out of solution. These bubbles can cause a painful and potentially incapacitating condition called "the bends." (An example is dissolved gas forming bubbles as pressure decreases by slowly opening a transparent bottle of soda.) Scuba training emphasizes how to prevent the bends when rising to the surface, but increased nitrogen concentrations can remain in tissue fluids for several hours after a diver leaves the water. The bends can be experienced from as low as 8,000 feet MSL, with increasing severity as altitude increases. As noted in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), the minimum recommended time between scuba diving on non-decompression stop dives and flying is 12 hours, while the minimum time recommended between decompression stop diving and flying is 24 hours.

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