DAN Medical Research
Diabetes & Diving
Historically, DAN has advised divers with insulin-dependent diabetes against diving because of the threat of a hypoglycemic episode underwater. However, in a 1996 survey, DAN discovered that approximately 177 of its members were diabetic and scuba diving. Of these, approximately 74 percent were insulin-dependent.
As a result of these findings, DAN Medical Research launched an observational study in 1997 to analyze current guidelines for divers with diabetes.
The objectives of the study were:
For this study, all participants:
To participate the diver must have:
To participate the diver must have had:
Blood Glucose Monitoring
Blood glucose monitoring occurred one hour, 30 minutes, and 10 minutes prior to the dive, and again immediately after the dive.
What Are Hypoglycemic or Hyperglycemic Episodes?
Researchers assumed a hypoglycemic episode if the diverís blood glucose level was 70 mg/dl or less, or the diver experienced symptomatic hypoglycemia before, during, or after diving.
Signs & Symptoms of Hypoglycemia
Prior to the Dive
Blood glucose levels below 100 mg/dl on pre-dive measurements or falling levels during subsequent tests were treated with an oral glucose gel and a fourth measurement obtained one hour later. The subject was not allowed to dive and kept under medical supervision until blood glucose level was rising or stable and above 100 mg/dl.
During the Dive
Volunteers who experienced hypoglycemic events (symptoms of hypoglycemia) during the dive signaled their buddies with a pre-established hand signal -- an L-shape with their thumb and index finger -- and the buddies ascended to the surface. On the surface, the buddy helped the diabetic diver become positively buoyant and ingest a tube of glucose gel (each diabetic diver carried a tube). The buddy team then terminated the dive, returned to the boat, and rechecked the diabeticís blood glucose level. An event occurring after the dive required a diabetic diver to eat a carbohydrate snack and recheck his or her blood glucose level until it rose above 80 mg/dl. The diabetic remained under medical supervision during this time.