The Healthy Diver: Drink Up
Hydration can be a major problem to your health even when you are completely surrounded by water. In fact, all the delights of a dive vacation — a hot sun, rum punches, long hours spent on the water — can leave you as dry as desert sand. How can you avoid becoming dehydrated, which could put an early end to an amazing diving adventure, and learn to recognise the symptoms?
A few common symptoms like headache, fatigue, or feeling dizzy can be overlooked or attributed to other causes. But when these symptoms accompany others, such as a dry mouth or being excessively thirsty, dehydration is likely the cause. Some of the most common effects from mild dehydration is cramping because not enough water is taken to your muscles and overall exhaustion and weakness. While that may not sound very severe, the more dehydrated you are, the more difficult it is for you to remain focused and self aware of your surroundings. You are also at a higher risk of having decompression sickness. On a dive vacation, some of the factors leading to dehydration are:
1) Sweating. Perspiring is the body’s internal a/c, a cooling mechanism that releases a significant amount of water. It’s common to sweat in hot, exotic locations — and that’s without the extra stresses and workload a diver has. Divers sweat while loading and offloading gear from a boat, finning against a current, and wearing a wetsuit for a prolonged period of time.
2) Sunburn. Soaking up the sun’s rays can be dangerous. Relaxing on the beach can lead to sunburn and as your body struggles to repair the damage, water seeps into the damaged skin and the body loses fluids.
3) Immersion diuresis. This is the correct term for peeing in your wetsuit. Immersion in water, especially in water that is colder than the air, causes narrowing of the blood vessels in your arms and legs, sending more blood back to your body.