Scuba diving has an amazing history, and it has been fascinating everyone since the invention of equipment like masks, gas tanks, swim fins, aqua-lungs etc. These equipment have made deep sea diving possible, and of course, exciting. People enjoy it as a holiday adventure without realizing that even a small mistake, like not taking a decompression stop can cost even an experienced diver's life. When pursuing diving as an adventure, people should take help or training only from certified professionals or else it could be very risky.
The weight of water causes an increase in air pressure in any material that can be compressed (lungs, wet-suit, etc.) in proportion to depth, the same way that atmosphere causes pressure at sea level. Injuries caused by such changes in air pressure are called barotrauma. These injuries can be quite painful, like a ruptured eardrum or damage to the sinuses. To avoid these damages several techniques are used, for example, the mask is equalized by regular exhaling through the nose and the dry suit is equalized by inflation and deflation.
Effects of Breathing High Pressure Gas
- Decompression Sickness: Decompression sickness, also known as 'the bends', is due to the formation of gas bubbles in the body tissues. It could be avoided by slowly releasing the body water pressure at the end of the dive to allow gases trapped inside the bloodstream to break down and exit the body.
- Nitrogen Narcosis: Nitrogen narcosis is something very similar to the state of alcohol intoxication. It happens to divers who dive at depth and breathe high pressure gas. It causes dizziness, anxiety, hallucinations, and tunnel vision. Adding trimix or heliox in the breathing gas reduces these effects.
- Oxygen Toxicity: The pressurized oxygen in the breathing gas tank becomes toxic with increase in the pressure at depths exceeding a safe 'partial pressure'. It directly affects the central nervous system, causing a seizure.
Loss of Body Heat
An interesting fact about water relating to the conduction of heat is that water conducts heat from the diver that is 25 times better than air, and can lead to hypothermia even at mild temperatures. This is deadly, but, can be avoided by wearing wet suits or dry suits that provide thermal insulation. Another method to reduce heat loss in wet-suits is to trap a layer of water between the diver's body and the suit. This way, heat gets trapped within the wet-suit.
When at the bottom in an ocean or sea, the peril of strong ocean currents drafting the diver along is always there. The diver may have to swim against the current to get back to the original position. Never get so mesmerized by the underwater beauties that you get lost because of current. A diver must always know about the current of the water where he is diving.
Diving provides mysteries of underwater, but, at a cost. You need to concentrate hard on diving rather than only enjoying the view. It requires great willpower and concentration. Always dive with a trained and certified professional, and do not ever give scuba diving lessons to friends until you are certified, no matter how much of an expert one might be.