DAN, Can You Tell Me…

The DAN Medical Services team addresses a wide range of questions from members and non-members every day relating to diving health and safety. Over the past weeks, these questions have included intracranial hypertension, Bell’s palsy, the impact of taking supplements, pinched nerves and so much more! Here is a sample.

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DAN, can you tell me ….

Hi DAN, I have had a pinched nerve for a few days that is bothering my right thigh. I gave it a couple of days, but there is no real improvement. Last night we had some friends over and one mentioned it might be because of my wetsuit. Normally I dive in tropical water, but currently in cooler water, so I purchased a waterproof 5mm long wetsuit about 2 weeks ago. Do you think my pinched nerve has something to do with the wetsuit because it’s tight — a good fit rather than too small?

DAN Answer: The pain in your thigh in unlikely to be related to a snug-fitting wetsuit. This type of pain you describe, a pinched nerve feeling originates from deeper within the tissue. The pressure from a too-tight wetsuit is superficial. It is more likely related to lifting and maneuvering of heavy scuba gear or an injury.

 

Hi DAN, I have Bell’s palsy, partial paralysis on the right side of my face probably caused by an ear or throat infection. The infection is gone but the paralysis is still there. I am a commercial diver and was wondering if can I dive with this condition or if diving will make it worse?

DAN Answer: Bell’s palsy, as you are aware, causes unilateral facial weakness and pain. Although often transient, it can also be permanent. There are some risks to consider. Since pain and paralysis can also be symptoms of DCS, it can make the diagnosis and treatment of DCS more difficult. If your ability to blink on that side is decreased, you can develop corneal ulceration, which can be worsened by exposure to seawater and the extreme environment encountered in diving (wind, salty air, etc.). A common treatment for this condition is a drug called acyclovir (antiviral). It’s important to consider that this drug can lower the seizure threshold. With facial paralysis, there can be difficulty with firmly retaining a regulator in the mouth. This would be less of a risk for you with the helmet, but perhaps there are occasions when you use a regulator with a mouthpiece. It would be best to wait until you have completed all treatment, have had a recovery period, and have been cleared to dive by a doctor with dive-medicine experience.

 

Hi DAN, I’ve recently started a strength training program, and I am taking supplements to optimise my regimen. Are there any implications for diving regarding these supplements: Beetroot supplement 500 mg, Creatine 5gm, Beta alanine 4gm, Methylsulfonylmethane MSM 3gm, whey protein or fish oil?

DAN Answer: Supplements should not be an issue with diving. With that said, there are no research studies on the effects of supplements in the hyperbaric environment. Given that you are overall healthy and engage in regular exercise, the larger question is the potential side effects of the supplements.

The general recommendation is to be on any new medication or supplement for at least thirty (30) days to rule out any potential negative side effects or adverse reactions. Do discuss your desire to dive while taking these supplements with your health care provider.

Do you have a diving-related medical question? If so, send your question to DAN’s Medical Services team: https://www.diversalertnetwork.org/?a=medicemail.

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