Vertigo and Vomiting while Diving

Diving is an amazing sport. Sometimes though, unexpected things can happen to you when you’re underwater. Two of the worst things that divers can experience when they are underwater are Vertigo and Vomiting.

What do you do when you get vertigo or have to vomit while diving?

Sometimes vomiting immediately follows vertigo when diving and other times a diver may be suffering from sea sickness. Either way, learning how to deal with these issues while under water can help you from suffering an expansion injury or worse.

What is Vertigo and What Causes it While Diving

Having vertigo for the first time can catch you off guard. The sensations associated with vertigo can be very disorienting. Many times people feel dizzy and nauseous. Sometimes you will feel like the world around you is spinning even though you are floating still.

Vertigo can be caused by different issues ranging from chronic illness to ear infection. If you are feeling healthy and have no known illnesses and experience vertigo while diving it is likely due to a problem equalizing your ears. As divers go deeper under the water, they need to equalize constantly. Any imbalance between the pressure in the middle ear and the ambient pressure can cause alternobaric vertigo.

Vertigo is more common when divers are ascending than descending. Divers who wear hoods may also experience vertigo more often than divers who don’t. When the diving hood fails to create an even seal on both ears, it can cause uneven pressure within the middle ear.

Vertigo and Vomiting while Diving

How to Orient Yourself When You Have Vertigo

If you start to get disoriented during vertigo, there are some quick things that you can do to figure out which way is up. You can use your air bubbles if you are using a regulator. Watch the air bubbles go up, and you know that is the direction of the surface.

When you are using a rebreather, or for some reason cannot see your bubbles, looking at the water droplets in your goggles can help. The water in your goggles will always be going down toward the bottom because of gravity. If you can remember these two things, then you should be able to tell which way is up and which way is down.

Being disoriented with vertigo is not safe. If you happen to find yourself in this position, use your dive buddy to help you. You don’t want to ascend too quickly and risk an expansion injury. Try stabilizing with your dive buddy or by using a mooring line. This will ensure your safety and reduce your risk of an injury.

Vomiting under Water during a Dive

There are several reasons that you may find yourself vomiting while diving. If you notice that your nauseous and are about to puke the first thing you should do is brace your self either against your dive partner or a mooring line. Because vomiting is a strenuous process, you don’t want to risk rapid ascension during the process.

Next, you will want to make sure that you have a firm hold on the back of your regulator. This ensures that the regulator will stay in your mouth when you vomit. The last thing that you will want to do is take your regulator out of your mouth while vomiting. If you take your regulator out, you risk accidentally inhaling water. Many people involuntarily inhale after vomiting.

After you have braced the regulator against your mouth, you can vomit through your regulator. Your vomit will go through the regulator just like air does. Once you’re done vomiting, you can clear your regulator and return to the surface. If you cannot clear your regulator, you may need to use your backup regulator.

If you ever find that you have vomited while scuba diving you do want to make sure that you return to the surface as soon as possible. You don’t want to risk your health and possibly your life by continuing the dive after vomiting. This could be a sign of a serious health condition. Vomiting can also cause you to become disoriented and rapidly ascend.

Suffering from Vertigo and Vomitting while diving

How to Handle Coughing and Sneezing

Sneezing and coughing are two common concerns for scuba divers. Many times the dryness of compressed air can cause people to have a coughing fit. If you find that you cough or sneeze while underwater don’t panic.

You can cough directly through the regulator. The procedure is going to feel very similar to what you do if you were to vomit. You will need to secure your regulator with a free hand while making sure you can keep yourself oriented by either getting assistance from your dive partner or holding on to a mooring line. Some divers choose to keep gum in their mouth to help with the dryness in their throat and avoid coughing.

When sneezing you’re going to sneeze directly into your dive mask. If moisture or snot makes it into your mask wait until you’re done sneezing. Once you’re done, you will clear your mask the same way you would if you had a leak or had gotten water into your mask.

Final Thoughts

Now you’re fully prepared to handle bodily functions that may interfere with your ability to breathe while scuba diving. Coughing, sneezing, and vomiting may all sound very frightening to new scuba divers.

But there are simple solutions to all three. As long as you don’t panic each of these bodily functions is easy to survive even at depth.

What do you do when you get vertigo or have to vomit while diving?
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