Medical Forum
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Posted : January 30, 2009
Hi, my girlfriend is keen to become a diver but unfortunately she has asthma and I'd like to find out whether she will be able to dive properly and what she would need to do to get certified to take the course.

On a recent trip out to Egypt, we consulted a doctor out there who after some scrutiny passed her fit to do a try dive with a restriction that she dive for no more than 20 minutes for her first dive just as a precaution.
She actually did two discover scuba dives and other than a little trouble equalising initially on the first dive, she was able to do both without any further problems.

Her asthma is exercise-induced but seems to be mild.
She takes a combined steroid preventer and reliever inhaler twice a day and only ever needs it occasionally other than that.

Could you please let me know whether the approval given by the Egyptian doctor was likely to be reliable and whether or not she is likely to be able to do the full open water course.
Also, if she needs to consult a doctor in the UK (South East), could you please recommend somewhere for her to go for a consultation.

Posted : January 30, 2009
Thanks for the query.

The bottom line with asthma of any variety is that it needs an initial assessment from a diving doctor. I'm not sure what examination or paperwork the Egyptian doctor did, but you should check with a local dive shop as to whether it would be acceptable in the UK.

We see a lot of asthmatics for "fit to dive" assessments. The examination is straightforward and most patients who are well controlled, irrespective of inhaler use, pass as fit. If there is any sign that exercise may be a trigger for the problem, then an exercise test is needed, on top of the usual spirometry.

So please arrange an appointment with your local dive doctor or call us on 0207 806 4028 for a "fit to dive" appointment if you can get to London.

We charge 60 for the medical which can be renewed by phone in the future if your condition is still the same.

For further information on how this problem affects or is affected by diving please have a look here:

in the appropriate section.

We are based at:

The Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth
60 Grove End Rd
St Johns Wood

For precise directions to where we are please click on the right hand bar icon on our site:

Dr O Firth
Answer provided by Dr Oliver Firth
Dr Ollie Firth
The views expressed by Dr Firth & Dr Jules are their own and the publishers accept no liability for the advice and views expressed by Dr Firth , Dr Jules, or other users, which are provided as a general service to divers. Users are warned that secondary posts are the views of other users and may not be medically correct.
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