Vertigo, dizziness and tilting, can happen to any diver which is why it is important to know how to prevent it and what to do when you do experience vertigo. As always, it is important to remain calm and regain control.
Disorientation is one of the causes of vertigo which is why knowing how to use a scuba compass is an important skill to help you keep your bearings. If you don’t own one yet, it is time to read reviews of the best dive compass for scuba divers.
Preventing Vertigo When Scuba Diving
Also, make sure that you are within sight of your dive buddy so they can help you in case of vertigo. This is just one of the many reasons why you should prevent scuba dive buddy separation. Read on for more detailed tips on how to prevent vertigo while underwater.
Before Going Underwater
If you are not feeling fit or if you have a medical condition, your chances of experiencing vertigo while diving increases. This is why every dive center always has a health check, whether written or communicated by the dive instructors.
There are several health-related reasons to not go diving. Choosing to dive anyway puts you at greater risk of vertigo and unsafe conditions as a result of it.
Something as simple as a cold, flu or indigestion may not seem like a serious condition but they can impact your ability to dive. It can impact your ability to equalize and your ability to control your buoyancy, both of which are necessary for a safe dive.
Always inform the dive instructors or guides of any medical conditions or medication that you are using because these can also impact your reactivity and control underwater. Certain medical conditions can become exacerbated underwater.
Communicate with Your Buddy
Dive buddies are there for safety reasons, to make sure that you both have a safe dive and to help you in case of emergencies or simply to help you stay calm. This is why it is important to keep communicating with your buddy and check in with each other every few minutes.
Before heading to the water, check each other’s air supply. A bad air fill is very dangerous so do a check before you head out. Simply take a breath from your buddy’s air supply and make sure that there is no off-taste or consistency. If you suspect anything wrong with the air fill, directly inform the dive center staff.
During your dive course, you learned the basic hand signals that divers use. Make sure you are both familiar with the same signals and which signals indicate distress or vertigo. Then, once you are underwater, keep communicating. Give each other the ‘okay’ sign when everything is good and show each other where you are heading towards.
A good dive buddy knows what to do in case of vertigo. The best thing is to help them regain calmness, make sure they keep breathing from the regulator and stop them from rising to the surface too fast.
Visual Cues for Prevention
Being underwater can feel disorientating which is why it helps to give yourself visual cues that give you some sense of direction and place. There are several ways to do this.
Use ascent and descent lines, no matter the visibility level underwater. This is because both low visibility and extremely good visibility can cause misinformation in your brain which can lead to vertigo.
Having ascent and descent lines gives you a visual point of reference but also something to hold on to. This can be a comforting tool when you feel disorientated.
It is difficult to completely remember your surroundings when diving at a new site but it is smart to take note of the topography like the coral or other underwater features. These can serve as reference points to give you an idea of distance and place.
Another type of visual cue is your dive computer or depth gauge. This kind of information helps your brain to rationalize where you are and what you are doing which in turn prevents vertigo caused by disorientation.
This is one of the most important aspects of diving and a big part of vertigo prevention. Start equalizing early and do it regularly throughout the dive.
If you are in colder waters and wearing a hood, it might be a good idea to remove the hood for a few seconds so that your ears can feel the descent. However, don’t do this if it puts you at risk of undercooling.
Finally, remember to stay calm in every situation. Stay where you are and keep breathing to give yourself time to process what to do next and signal to your buddy.