DAN Medical Frequently Asked Questions

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Chronic Pancreatitis

What's chronic pancreatitis? Can I dive with this condition?

Chronic pancreatitis is a progressive and destructive process resulting in fibrosis and calcification of pancreatic tissue. Loss of pancreatic function can reduce or eliminate the production of insulin. Chronic pancreatitis (70-80 percent) has many causes, including chronic alcohol use and gallstones. Endemic in tropical parts of the world, it can be hereditary as one ages, and it can be caused by other illness and disease. It may present as indigestion, nausea or stomach pain; it can be triggered by eating or drinking alcohol. While this disease can cause chronic malabsorption of nutrients leading to severe weight loss, it can also lead to diabetes.

Scuba diving depends on the level of fitness and health of the individual. If a diver’s condition has not progressed to the point of needing medication control for chronic pain, if the diver can eat without the gastrointestinal side effects of pancreatitis, including diabetes, and if the diver can perform exercise without unusual fatigue, then scuba may be permitted. However, the manifestation of continuous and chronic symptoms of pancreatitis would make diving with symptoms unwise.