COPD FAQ

My doctor recently diagnosed me with mild COPD. Can I still dive with this condition? What are the risks?
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also known as chronic obstructive lung disease (COLD), encompasses a variety of respiratory health problems, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Regardless of what form of COPD a person may have, there are implications for diving and risks of which the person should be aware.

Chronic bronchitis is defined clinically as a productive cough that persists for periods of up to three months and occurs one or more times a year for at least two years. During these periods, the risk of infection, including pneumonia, is high. The inflammation of the bronchial passages and increased mucus production that characterize these periods are uncomfortable: Patients report wheezing, difficulty breathing and feeling as though they cannot get enough air.

For divers, the inflammation and excess mucus lead to the possibility of trapping dense compressed gas at depth. Upon ascent the gas will expand in volume, potentially leading to pulmonary barotrauma, which could include pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and, in the worst case, arterial gas embolism (AGE). Of these, AGE is the most immediate threat to life, but a complicated pneumothorax can also be fatal.

Emphysema is defined clinically as permanent abnormal enlargement of the air spaces within the lungs due to the deterioration of the alveoli. These enlarged spaces are conducive to trapping air at depth, which creates the same possibility of pulmonary barotrauma as chronic bronchitis.

For medical management purposes with regard to medications and other therapies, physicians classify COPD as mild, moderate, severe or very severe, as determined by severity of airflow obstruction. Even with the clinical designation of mild there is measurable obstruction beyond what is considered safe among pulmonology experts trained in dive medicine. For these reasons, diving with COPD — even mild COPD — is not recommended.
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ivanna santino - February 18th, 2020 at 10:33am

I'm 59 years old and female. I was diagnosed a couple of years ago with COPD and I was beyond scared! My lung function test indicated 49% capacity. After having had flu a year ago, the shortness of breath, coughing and chest pains continued even after being treated with antibiotics. I've been smoking two packs a day for 36 years. Being born without a sternum caused my ribs to be curled in just one inch away from my spine, resulting to underdeveloped lungs. At age 34 I had surgery and it was fixed. Unfortunately my smoking just caused more damage to my already under developed lungs. The problem was having is that I enjoy smoking and don't want to give up! Have tried twice before and nearly went crazy and don't want to go through that again. I saw the fear in my husband and children's eyes when I told them about my condition then they start to find solution on their own to help my condition.I am an 59 now who was diagnose COPD emphysema which I know was from my years of smoking. I started smoking in school when smoking was socially acceptable. I remember when smoking was permitted in hospitals. It was not known then how dangerous cigarettes were for us, and it seemed everybody smoked but i was able to get rid of my COPD lung condition through the help of total cure herbal foundation my husband bought, totalcureherbsfoundation .c om has the right herbal formula to help you get rid and repair any lung conditions and cure you totally with their natural organic herbs,it class products at affordable prices. Purchase these medicines and get the generic medicines delivered in USA, UK & Australia,I wish anybody who starts smoking at a young age would realize what will eventually happen to their bodies if they continue that vile habit throughout their life.

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