Atopy, airway reactivity and compressed air diving in males

Respiration. 1998;65(4):270-4. doi: 10.1159/000029275.


A decline in expiratory flow rates in divers has recently been attributed to chronic exposure to hyberbaric air. Airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) to stimuli due to a hyperbaric environment may play a certain role in this context. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of AHR in compressed air divers and to assess the value of bronchial challenges for prediction of fitness to dive. A cross-sectional sample of 59 healthy male volunteers--28 divers and 31 diving candidates (controls)--who had been found fit to dive in a diving medical examination underwent additional allergy screening (skin prick and serum IgE) and a histamine bronchial challenge. Pre- and postchallenge body plethysmography was completed to assess AHR. AHR to histamine was significantly increased among divers and positively related to diving experience whereas divers and controls did not differ significantly with respect to age, anthropometric data, current smoking habits, skin prick reaction, and elevated serum IgE. Our results indicate an increased prevalence of AHR to nonspecific inhalation stimuli in experienced divers. Bronchial challenge tests may be helpful to detect asthmatics in the medical assessment of fitness to dive and for follow-up examinations during a diver's career.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / diagnosis
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / epidemiology
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / etiology*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decompression / adverse effects*
  • Diving / adverse effects*
  • Histamine
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / etiology
  • Male
  • Patch Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Histamine