1. Why Maintaining Proper Hydration While Diving Is Vital?
In the world of diving, staying hydrated is not just a helpful tip, but a critical factor in preventing health complications during dives. With 60% of our body made up of water, its importance for the optimal functioning of the human systems is undeniable. From regulating temperature to lubricating joints and flushing out waste, water and its minerals act as fundamental pillars for physiological balance in every cell and tissue of the body.
In the fascinating realm of hydration while diving, every cell, tissue, and organ plays a crucial role. Joint lubrication, cardiovascular efficiency, thermal regulation, and the elimination of bodily waste are just some examples of how hydration impacts the underwater experience.
Although the “8 x 8” rule (eight 8-ounce glasses a day) is often mentioned as a standard for daily water intake, clinical experts suggest a more substantial amount. For men, between 3 to 4 liters per day is recommended, while for women, the suggestion ranges between 2 to 3 liters. However, this general estimate can vary considerably based on various factors, including age, body weight, medications in use, as well as habits of alcohol or caffeine consumption. Additionally, climate, physical activity, and other environmental elements can also play a significant role in hydration needs during diving.
2. Is Scuba Diving Dehydrating?
Living dehydrates us; we lose water just by breathing. Dehydration occurs when we eliminate more fluid than we ingest, resulting not only in a loss of water but also of mineral salts.
Therefore, to maintain hydration while diving, it is as crucial to drink enough water as it is to avoid, as much as possible, unnecessary losses. According to experts at the Divers Alert Network (DAN), three key factors contribute to dehydration during a dive: breathing compressed air, sweating, and immersion diuresis.
Breathing Compressed Air
The simple act of breathing compressed air underwater leads to the accelerated loss of water in our bodies. The reason? Compressed air lacks moisture, forcing our bodies to extract the necessary moisture from our water reserves. This process results in significant dehydration, a phenomenon that every diver must consider.
Avoiding excessive sweating during boat trips becomes crucial to prevent dehydration. Choosing the right wetsuit and planning to avoid prolonged sun exposure become necessary preventive measures to maintain the body’s water balance. Aim to travel on shaded boats and drink ample water up to half an hour before starting the dive.
As we mentioned in the article ” 7 Truths and Lies About Peeing in Wetsuit” a diver loses water during a dive due to an increased need to urinate caused by submersion. Studies show that urine production is 5-6 times higher underwater than on land, leading to a loss of about 350 cc per hour of water contained in the blood. As the water is cooler than our body temperature and we are subjected to increased pressure, blood vessels constrict and send blood into the body. The brain interprets this concentration of blood as an excess of fluid and signals the excretory system to work.
For divers, dehydration is an additional concern, especially during diving vacations in hot destinations, where the frequency of dives increases and factors such as salinity, alcohol consumption, and climate contribute to further dehydration.
How to face these challenges? Hydration before and during the dive becomes crucial. Technical divers have adopted the practice of drinking fluids even during the dive to counteract this loss.