Prevalence and characteristics of lung function changes in recreational scuba divers

Prim Care Respir J. 2011 Mar;20(1):59-63. doi: 10.4104/pcrj.2010.00063.


Aims: To investigate the hypothesis that a salt water SCUBA dive may cause bronchoconstriction in some individuals.

Methods: 100 experienced recreational SCUBA divers acted as their own controls. Spirometry measures were taken with Easyone(TM) spirometers before and after a dive. Measures recorded included FEV1/FVC ratio and forced mid-expiratory flow (FEF25-75%).

Results: 60 participants (68% male, 32% female) aged between 19-68 years (mean 47 years) produced data meeting ATS/ERS international standards. Of these, 23% exhibited pre-dive FEV1/FVC ratio values less than 75%. Statistics on paired samples of pre- and post-parameters showed a significant decrease in FVC post-dive but did not show significant reductions in FEV1 or FEV1/FVC. Six (10%) were current smokers and 13 (21%) were former smokers.

Conclusions: 25% of participants had reduced FEV1/FVC ratio regardless of undertaking a dive. Consideration of the clinical implications requires further investigation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Bronchoconstriction*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diving / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Recreation
  • Reference Values
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Risk Assessment
  • Spirometry
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vital Capacity*
  • Young Adult