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Flying after diving is usual in a divers’ life. Therefore, the question to answer is not if we can do it, but when we can do it to have a smooth trip.
Cozumel, Galapagos Islands, Maldives or the Red Sea, among others, are extremely tempting destinations. They are often on our bucket list, but although we don’t want to, we have to come back home. Needless to say, divers of all four continents turn to the plane for their journeys. After all, it is the fastest and most comfortable way to cross the orb to enjoy our favorite sport.But since diving is our passion, we want to make the most of those few days that we can dedicate to it. So, there you are, willing to squeeze in the last dive before leaving your dream destination. Nonetheless, we cannot forget the most important thing is that everything go smoothly during your travels. For this reason, in today’s article, we answer this question: How long do you have to wait to fly after diving? Let’s see!
But since diving is our passion, we want to make the most of those few days that we can dedicate to it. So, there you are, willing to squeeze in the last dive before leaving your dream destination. Nonetheless, we cannot forget the most important thing is that everything go smoothly during your travels. For this reason, in today’s article, we answer this question: How long do you have to wait to fly after diving? Let’s see!
You already learned about this topic in your Open Water Diver course, but let’s review together. During diving, our body accumulates more nitrogen and it takes some time to eliminate. Nitrogen takes 12-24 hours, on average, to return to normal surface levels in your body. As you know, nitrogen is a gas whose uptake and release by our body is affected by pressure. When we are flying, the atmospheric pressure decreases with respect to what we had at sea level.
Yes, I know what you’re going to tell me – “The aircraft cabins are pressurized” and that is true, but in them the pressure ranges between 11 and 12 PSI (0,76-0,83 BAR). However, at sea level, the pressure is about 14, 5 PSI (1 BAR). this difference is enough for the small residual nitrogen bubbles to expand and cause decompression problems, and we don’t want that happen, do we?
Flying After Diving, How Long Should I Wait?
Many factors can affect the calculation of the time we have to wait to fly after diving: the altitude at which you are going to fly, the depth you dove, the kind of diving you practiced and even your physical conditions. This is the reason why there are small differences of opinion between the advice of one’s diving associations and others. It is also true that all of them agree that waiting 24 hours to fly after diving offers the greatest safety guarantees.
To be more exact, the studies carried out by DAN (Divers Alert Network) have obtained great acceptance by the diver community. These studies apply to flights ranging between altitudes of 2,000 feet / 610 meters and 8,000 feet / 2,439 meters) and only for sport diving. Neither professional diving nor Nitrox diving adheres to these recommendations:
- After single no-decompression dives, a minimum pre-flight surface interval of 12 hours is suggested.
- After multiple no-decompression dives per day or multiple days of diving, a minimum pre-flight surface interval of 18 hours is suggested.
- For dives requiring decompression stops, there is little experimental or published evidence on which to base a recommendation; for decompression diving, a preflight surface interval substantially longer than 18 hours appears prudent.
To help divers in these calculations, dive computers are a great ally. These devices, currently, can calculate the optimal waiting time to fly after diving and do these calculations based on the dives you have made. If you do not have your own dive computer and you must rent one, use the same one for all the dives you will do. In this way, you will ensure that the calculations of the device are not biased.
Diving After Flying.
Although there should not be any problem to dive after flying, remember to hydrate properly during the trip. Since dehydration is a factor that makes it difficult to eliminate inert gases and as you know, nitrogen is one of them. Besides, long-distance trips can cause sleep disturbances and jet-lag. Follow our advice and give yourself some time to recover from the trip before the first dive.
And now that you know how long you have to wait to fly after diving, tell us, where will you travel to for your next diving trip?