Hydration, why it’s important for diving

Davy Jones Locker instructor Dani explains the importance of hydration for divers and the best ways to stay hydrated when going out for a day of diving.

Hydration, why it's important for diving

Importance of staying hydrated

We all understand at this point during our lives that hydration is important to stay alive! The more hydrated we are the better we feel, same as the less hydrated we are the worse we feel. As scuba diving is an inwater activity people assume we need less water than maybe a runner or cyclist needs…. think again! Hydration is a massively important part of a divers life and it is so important for us to stay hydrated when we dive.

There are various reasons why we may get MORE dehydrated than the regular person. Here I will list a few of those reasons to try to help you understand why it is so important to stay hydrated :

• Sweating due to the climate and exposure suit

Most dive locations are along the equator or in beautiful hot climates such as our dive centre on KohTao. Now most people will use some sort of exposure suit during the dive as we lose heat 20 x faster underwater than we do on the surface. However whilst we are on the surface in our exposure suit setting up equipment carrying tanks and gear etc most people will be sweating and extremely hot.

• Respiration

We naturally exhale water in our breath and this is made more extreme by breathing dry filtered air.

• Sun wind and salt

The sun will make us perspire of course and even more so when wearing and exposure suit. If we are on a moving boat or in windy climates this will cause the sweat to evaporate more quickly so our body feels it needs to perspire again to cool itself down. Salt clings to water crystals slowing down water absorbtion and slowing our bodys ability to cool itself.

• Seasickness

We all know that one poor diver that gets seasick just looking at a boat, this is a massive cause of dehydration. Dehydration has a number of symptons that we need to be aware of:

No urine or only a small amount, if the colour is darker than usual it is also a sign of dehyadration.

Dry mouth.

Extreme thirst.

Headache.

Sleepiness or fatigue.

Confusion.

Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.

It is important to keep yourself hydrated before getting any of these symptons. Once dehydration starts to take effect it may so not be so easy to recognise these symptoms.

What effect does dehydration have on divers? Water helps our blood to stay at the consistency its needed to travel around the body. Not enough water and the blood becomes thick and gloopy and doesn’t affectively transport essential nurtients to the organs. As the transportaion of gasses is what helps us off gas nitrogen after a dive its important for our blood to be at the correct consistancy to help us flush this nitrogen out. Think of your body like a well oiled machine. Putting water in is the fuel you need to need to help this machine function at the correct capacity. If we dont change the oil it will become sluggish and tired. Mild to moderate dehydration in a diver can cause these symptoms.

Weakness and exhaustion.

Poor air consumption.

Cramping.

Reduced awareness.

Increased risk of decompression sickness.

So guys, what to drink? WATER! coffee/tea/alcohol will act as just another way to dehydrate you. If you don’t like water? toughen up! fruit juices, soft drinks and sports drinks have a massive link to obesity and tooth decay! men need between 3-4 litres of water per day, and women between 2-3 litres. Thats a lot! Increase this even more when diving to help you feel fresh during the day.

Maintaining hydration

Here are somehelpful tips to help you stay hydrated during your diving day.

Remember to maintain hydration early on, hydration fluids need to be taken at regular intervals, hours before your dive.

Carry a re-usable, clear water bottle with measurement markings. This helps you gauge your consumption.

Hydrate during surface intervals.

Remember, fruit is great both pre-dive and post-dive as it contains water, fructose and vitamins.

Stay in the shade as often as is practical, it is especially beneficial for equipment set-up.

Wait until you are absolutely ready to get in the water before putting on an exposure suit.

Use eco friendly sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) and apply it every hour you are out in the sun. Waterproof sunscreen does not do what it sas on the package. It will start to come off your body while you are diving, showering after the dive and also sweating.

Cover up. Utilize wide-brimmed hats, light-weight long-sleeve shirts or wind breakers are good for windy conditions.

Any salt remaining on your skin after diving will need to be rinsed off.

Try to avoid sea sickness. There is medication available to combat this and also areas on the boat where it is better to sit.

If vomiting occurs remember to replace fluids and electrolytes soon thereafter.

Diuretics such as alcohol should be avoided.

Plain water: GOOD Energy drinks/coffee tea: BAD.

So there you have it guys, stay safe and hydrated and if you keep it up you will feel super fresh all the time! Remember, water is LIFE!