Take your time when going from sea to sky
If your taste for adventure extends from under the water to high above it, take extra care to avoid decompression sickness, commonly called the bends.
Scuba divers are familiar with the idea that breathing compressed air at high pressure can allow nitrogen to build up in tissues during a dive. If you rise to the surface too quickly, that nitrogen can be released into the bloodstream as bubbles, causing severe pain and even death. The potential for disaster is aggravated if you fly after diving because the lower air pressure at altitude can also allow the sudden release of nitrogen bubbles into the blood.
The Aeronautical Information Manual recommends waiting at least 12 hours after a nondecompression-stop dive before flying and at least 24 hours after a dive requiring a decompression stop. If you anticipate flying at altitudes above 8,000 feet, you should wait at least 24 hours after any dive to give the body time to rid itself of excess nitrogen.
Learn more about protecting yourself or call the experts in the AOPA Pilot Information Center (800/USA-AOPA) to get answers to all your aviation questions.
August 13, 2008