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Posted : March 21, 2011
Hello,
I plan to take commercial diver course in near future. I have a few health issues though and I would really appreciate if you could give some advice before my medical.

Few years ago I started recreational diving as a chance to practice and to get some experience before becoming commercial diver. I feel great under water and am doing really well, but, when in water, for the first 4 to 9 metres I feel sharp pain, like pinching, behind and slightly below my ears. I have to ascend a bit where the pain disappears and then slowly descend. Sometimes I have to do it twice. Below 10 metres I have no problems at all. I don't think it is ear drums as I feel them equalizing properly - it's a sharp pain in upper part of my neck.

I also have seasonal allergies. I'm allergic to tree pollen and I take Flixonase together with Zyrtec once a day from February to April every year. I feel great for the rest of the year and I dived when taking these medicines and had no problems at all.

Last thing. In year 2007 I've had a laser surgery to patch very tiny holes in my retina (both eyes). I'm having regular checkups ever since and am told everything is OK and healing fine.
Besides that I have no health problems. I've been working in construction for bigger part of my life (I'm 30 now) first as a brick layer, later as a welder.
Could you please tell me, based on the information I just gave you, if all that disqualifies me as a commercial diver? Is it worth taking HSE medical and go ahead with the training? I'm mainly concerned about that pinching in my neck. I think commercial divers need to descend quite quick?

Thank you for your time.

Kind regards,
Jason


Answer
Posted : March 24, 2011
Thanks for your query.

In the commercial sector, time is money, but you should not let this influence safe diving practices. I am not sure what this pinching feeling in your neck is, but what you describe may be an awareness of your Eustachian tubes opening and gas passing through - in essence, the tubes equalising. This is not dangerous, and will probably become less prominent as your diving experience grows.

Anti histamines and steroid nasal sprays can be taken safely whilst diving, so as long as they don't produce side effects such as sedation you will be okay. Laser eye surgery is not normally a problem either, but you don't mention the cause of these tiny holes in your retina. Are they likely to recur? Some eye conditions can be worsened by diving so this needs to be assessed in more detail.

In summary none of these issues should preclude you from commercial diving immediately, but they do need individual assessment from an appropriately trained doctor.

Regards

Dr O
Answer provided by Dr Oliver Firth
Dr Ollie Firth

Disclaimer:
The views expressed by Dr Firth & Dr Jules are their own and the publishers accept no liability for the advice and views expressed by Dr Firth , Dr Jules, or other users, which are provided as a general service to divers. Users are warned that secondary posts are the views of other users and may not be medically correct.
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