Effects of ambient cold and depth on lung function in humans after a single scuba dive

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2001 Jul;85(1-2):125-9. doi: 10.1007/s004210100421.


This study evaluated the subacute respiratory effects of diving, to try to separate the effects of ambient temperature from those of depth. In the first experiment 10 healthy men made a compressed-air dive to 50 m that exposed them to cold. They were compared with 10 matched control subjects who underwent the same dive profile but were exposed to a comfortable temperature. In the second experiment 16 healthy subjects made randomized cold dives to both 50 m and 10 m. Pulmonary function tests were made before, after 1 h, and 24 h after the dives. In the first experiment there was an increase in residual volume (P < 0.05) and a decrease in forced expiratory volume at 1 s (FEV1), in forced vital capacity (FVC) and in mid-expiratory flow at 75% of FVC (MEF75) 1 h after the cold dives (P < 0.05). In the second experiment significant increases in specific airways resistance (sR(AW)) (P < 0.05) and decreases in FEV1 (P<0.01), in MEF75 (P<0.05), and in mid-expiratory flow at 25% of FVC (P<0.05), were obtained after the 50 m-dives, whereas SR(AW) increased after the 10 m-dives (P<0.05). The respiratory pattern observed 1 h after cold dives to 50 m indicated airway narrowing. The changes after cold dives to 10 m, however, were of minor magnitude. Both cold and depth seemed to contribute to the adverse effects of a single compressed-air dive on pulmonary function.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Bronchoconstriction / physiology
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Diving / physiology*
  • Forced Expiratory Volume / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothermia / physiopathology
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Male
  • Random Allocation
  • Residual Volume / physiology
  • Vital Capacity / physiology