Can I Dive If I Have A Cold? by Melissa Rodriguez

Diving with a stuffy head is unsafe. When your head is congested, you will have a problem clearing your ears and sinuses while descending. Also, you are at a higher risk of getting an agonizing reverse squeeze.
When you can't equalize the pressure in your ears, it's easy to rupture an eardrum or cause other serious injury. In addition, injury to the mucous lining of your sinus passages can cause serious bleeding. These conditions can happen while ascending or descending.

When a cold or the flu has settled in your lungs, it can interfere with diving. Breathing the chilly, dry compressed air can cause respiratory irritation and coughing, which in turn increases your chance of losing your regulator or inhaling water. The added stress can lead to an increased chance of a panic attack, a rapid ascent and a life-threatening arterial gas embolism.

The fever that can accompany colds and flu increases your body's metabolism, causing you to use up air more quickly, and possibly cause you to feel disoriented.

Not a good idea when diving. You should not dive while taking certain medications, either. Use caution when taking medication.

Checklist: Should I Dive?

Unless you can answer "yes" to all of these questions, you should not dive. Know the symptoms of a cold or flu. No dive is worth your health, safety or life. Stay healthy.


Can you breathe easily through both sides of your nose?
Have you gone at least two hours without having to blow your nose to clear it?
Can you equalize your ears with minimal effort on land?
Has it been at least a day since you have had fever, chills or sweats?
If someone asked you to engage in a physical activity, would you feel up to it physically?
Have you gone at least two hours without coughing?
If you are taking medicine, will it last until at least two hours after the dive is scheduled to end?