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Diving brain damage risk reinforced



Scuba diving could be bad for your health

A study has found more evidence that divers are risking brain damage when they go underwater.
A few researchers have noticed higher numbers of areas of damaged brain tissue, or lesions, in divers.

But the new survey suggests that going scuba diving increases the risk of developing one or more lesions by as much as five times.

Dr Christian Seiler, from the University of Bern in Switzerland, took magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brains of 52 divers and the same number of non-divers.

He found that in 19 of the divers, there were a total of 41 brain lesions, compared to just seven lesions in only six of the non-divers.

He said: "Diving increased the incidence of one or more ischaemic brain lesions by five-fold."

The affected divers had not performed any more, or any deeper dives than unaffected divers, and did not seem to be linked to smoking, or alcohol or medication use.

Heart defect

In addition, the study seemed to confirm the suspicion that divers suffering from a heart defect called a patent foramen ovale were more susceptible to this subtle damage.

A patent foramen ovale is an opening between two chambers of the heart which would in the majority of people have closed shortly after birth. If the opening remains, it affects the efficiency of blood pumping through the heart.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, confirms another possible danger to divers, although it does not explain exactly why the damage may be occurring.

There are three possibilities, the first of which is decompression sickness, in which bubbles of gas either form in or invade the blood stream, and can cause small areas of tissue to become starved of oxygen and die.

Other possibilities are oxygen starvation, or anoxia, caused by near-drowning, or the toxic effects of breathing gases given at higher than atmospheric pressure.

The bends

Decompression sickness - or "the bends" is perhaps one of the most feared medical risks associated with diving.

Ascending too rapidly to the surface at the end of a dive can cause large numbers of gas bubbles to form in the bloodstream because of the change in pressure.

If one stops the blood flow to part of the lungs, the result can be a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

However, sometimes the effects may be very mild, with relatively minor neurological problems such as vague confusion or slightly blurred vision, for which a diver may not even seek medical attention, as they often wear off quickly.

Some doctors have suggested that minor brain damage such as the lesions spotted in these scans may occur on occasions like this.
 

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This is not the first time that it has been suggested that minimal brain lesions are more common in divers than in, for example, football players. The question is, though, whether they are of any practical/clinical significance. As far as I know, nobody has shown that they are. I can't say I've noticed that my diving friends are in any way less intelligent or normal than those that don't dive, but perhaps that's because my own cerebral activity is compromised
 

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Yeah, this research has been going on for some time and I for one have no reasons to doubt that it is real, but I agree with John that any "clinical significance" of such is a whole other ball game. I mean, who amongst us has ever said "no alcohol for me, it kills your neurones" ...?

Plus, there are so many neurodegenerative diseases being "discovered" these days (Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Huntington's Chorea, DLB, MND, ALS, CBD etc etc ) it is going to be  hard to identify if divers are any more at risk than non-divers, and I can't see anyone rushing to splash the cash to study it, but if they do - "Gizza job..."  


My perscription: Sod it, dive now, worry later

Chee-az
Dr. Steve
 

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I was half way through this post and still trying to figure out what brain lesbians were.

I guess that means I've got some - lesions not lesbians that is.
 

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<font color='#000F22'>do you not think that  divers must be a bit brain damaged before they start diving
 

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<font color='#736AFF'>well it's better than prozac for cheering you up!
Woman still with mad demented grin from Angelsey weekend x
 

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<font color='#736AFF'>is there an acho in here?
I think that internal wotsit error is back. I had it on my last post

jules
 

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As if we needed telling that.  Every single person i know who dives has some sort of slight mental problem.  Nothing too serious but definate personality defects.  It's amazing that you can trust your life to them.
 
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