A reader approaches the DAN Medical Team this week with a question on dehydration and if it can contribute to decompression stress. Dehydration is when the body does not have as much water and fluids as it should. A lot can cause this, from not drinking enough water or fluids, to pressurised airplane cabins, alcohol and scuba air. It can effect the health, but how will it effect your diving? The experts have an answer:
Dehydration gets a substantial amount of attention as a risk factor for DCS, but probably more than is warranted. Sound hydration is important for good health, both for general and for diving health, but for your dive profile, thermal stress and exertion level are far more important risk factors for DCS. The undue focus on dehydration is probably a result of two issues. The first is that substantial fluid shifts can result from DCS, often creating a need for substantial fluid therapy and creating an impression that this was a cause, rather than a consequence, of the disease. The second issue is human nature — the understandable desire to assign blame for a condition that is capricious. DCS is fickle. A diver may adhere to a similar dive profile many times without incident but then develop DCS while following the very same profile. It is comforting to try and identify a single causal agent, even if this is more wishful than factual. It is important for divers to realise that a multitude of factors can subtly affect the risk on any one dive and that there is a probabilistic nature to the disease. Focusing on a range of strategies to reduce risk is more effective than trying to put all the blame on one.
Answer provided by the Divers Alert Network Medical Team