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8 Factors That Can Influence Your Decompression Stress While Diving

Pat Green   Sep 21, 2021

Whether you’re on vacation or taking scuba diving lessons to become a professional, there are some things you should know about decompression stress. Decompression stress is the stress on your body while ascending from deep depths of water. It can cause decompression sickness (DCS), so you would feel sluggish, lethargic, and a need to sleep after diving. Here are some of the factors that can affect the decompression stress you experience.

Dive parameters: Even with the best snorkels and other diving equipment, the dive profile, depth, time at depth, stops, gas choice, repetitive dives, ascent rate, and mix changes can all lead to DCS if not planned correctly.

Exercise: The type, timing, and intensity of the way you exercise before and after the dive, and even at different stages of the dive, can influence your decompression stress.

Thermal status: Thermal status includes factors like diving conditions, the duration of the dive, and any thermal changes that occur at different stages of the dive.

Predisposition: Again, even with the best snorkels and other diving equipment, there are features you bring into the dive that can affect your decompression stress. These include features like age, sex, genetics, circulation, epigenetics, obesity, acclimatization, fitness level, smoking, effects of drugs, and your DCS and PFO histories.

Hydration: If you are dehydrated or hyper-hydrated during the dive, it will affect your decompression stress.

Environment: The condition of the water will affect your decompression stress, such as the waves, current, surge, the distance of the entry/exit point in the water, and your seasickness susceptibility.

Behavior and attitude: Your competency, complacency, cognitive bias, and levels of deviance all play into behavioral factors that can affect DCS. Attitudes include things like pushing boundaries, challenging practices and ideas, relying too much on technology and equipment, and peer pressure.

Communication: You need to have the proper briefings and debriefings, and you need to be honest with yourself and your instructor about your abilities.

There are roughly 2.7 to 3.5 million scuba divers in the United States, with as many as 6 million active divers around the globe. Any of these divers can experience decompression stress. The best things you can do are to stay on course, stay within the correct depth, stay hydrated, and do a minute or two longer on your safety stop.