Common Diving Injuries and How To Avoid Them

assisting diver out of water

The most common dive-specific injuries include barotrauma and decompression illness in scuba diving and hypoxic blackout in breath-hold diving.

Barotrauma may occur during rapid depth change. In entry-level courses, divers learn how to equalize pressure in their ears, but ear barotrauma is still the most common diving injury. Ear barotrauma causes pain and may damage the eardrum, but is not life-threatening.

Lung barotrauma and arterial gas embolism (AGE) can occur if scuba divers do not breathe during ascent. These are life-threatening conditions. The best prevention is to avoid ascending too rapidly or panicking during ascent. Our research focuses on common mistakes preceding the emergency ascent, including running out of breathing gas and buoyancy problems.

Previous DAN Studies That Addressed Diving Injuries

increase safety with a predive checklist

Predive Checklists Increase Diving Safety

Many of the risks and hazards associated with scuba diving can be effectively mitigated or avoided by taking appropriate predive safety precautions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of predive checklists in reducing the incidence of diving mishaps and injuries.

Learn More

man waiting for a flight after recently diving

Flying After Diving

Decompression sickness can occur if a diver does not properly space out diving and flying postdive. The data collected from these studies influenced the current guidelines on when to fly postdive.

Learn More

X-ray of person with a pacemaker

Diving with Pacemakers: Experience of Divers with Implanted Cardiac Devices

Diving with a pacemaker is generally not recommended given the risk of drowning due to a possible underwater electrical shock and other complications.

Learn More

ultrasound of bubbles in the lungs

Accelerating Diving Research Toward More Continuous Bubble Assessment

VGE evolution postdive varies dramatically, so frequent measurement may be important for understanding the influence of VGE on other physiological mechanisms in diving. UNC researchers are working on obtaining a large number of ultrasound recordings to be used in refining algorithms for VGE detection.

Learn More