Prevention of Decompression Illness

Preventing DCI one hundred percent is not probable or realistic. DCI can occur even when you follow all of the guidelines and safety factors and your day to day body physiology can change, which can increase or decease your susceptibility of getting DCI.

There are a number of things you can do to limit the risks of getting DCI:

·         Use the proper gases for the depth your diving and for decompression
·         Ascend at the rate specified by the tables or dive computer you are using
·         Perform a safety stop at either 15 or 20 feet deep (4.5 or 6 m) for at least three minutes on a no decompression dive
·         When repetitive diving, perform adequate surface intervals and be conservative
·         Begin hydrating 12 to 24 hours prior to your dive
·         Hydrate before and immediately after your dive
·         Avoid strenuous and vigorous exercise prior to your dive
·         Control your exertion level during the dive
·         Avoid heavy exertion during decompression
·         Perform light movement or exercise during decompression
·         Avoid heavy exertion after your dive
·         Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine 12 hours before your dive and at least 6 hours after your dive
·         Do not smoke before your dive (actually quitting smoking altogether is best)
·         Perform cardiovascular exercise at least three times per week for 30 minutes
·         Eat healthy foods and avoid fatty foods
·         Stay fit and avoid being overweight
·         Wear proper exposure suits for the area you’re diving so that you maintain body temperature
·         As you get older, add conservatism to your dive profiles
·         Remain stable at your safety or decompression stops (don’t swim up and down)
·         Do not take hot showers, baths, or get into hot tubs for at least six hours after your dive
·         Do not breath hold dive after a decompression dive
·         Do not fly for at least 24 hours

By following these actions, your chances of getting DCI are reduced. But remember, these actions do not remove all chances of getting DCI even when all ascents, safety stops, and decompression stops are conducted correctly and with the guidelines.

Physical condition and exercise: If you have any physical impairment or condition that influences your circulatory or respiratory system, you should exercise caution with respect to decompression diving. If you are obese, elderly, in poor shape, fatigued regularly, smoke, drink excessively, do drugs, or have a poor attitude, you’re going to be more susceptible to DCI. Diving is a sport and requires a certain level of fitness and healthiness. Good and regular cardiovascular exercise is important and can greatly help your body’s ability to off gas effectively.

Dehydration: Dehydration can greatly affect your body’s ability to off gas. Maintain proper hydration levels in the days leading up to a big decompression dive. Stay hydrated on dive trips and days when making repetitive dives. Breathing dry compressed gas can cause excessive dehydration. Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol prior to diving.

Stress: Excess stress and task loading can weaken your body’s ability to off gas effectively. Don’t task load yourself too much on any dive and try to maintain a stress free lifestyle as much as possible.

There are other factors that can influence your susceptibility of getting DCI, such as cavitation, gas solubility, blood and tissue variability and composition, tissue vascularity, and biophysics of bubble formation. These factors are can be different from person to person and from day to day, which is why decompression science is not exact and constantly being studied.