Staying hydrated sounds like an easy task, however, it can be more difficult than you think especially while SCUBA diving. Let's be frank, more odds are against you being acceptably hydrated from the moment you get to you dive destination if not before hand. As we all know dehydration can increase our chances of decompression sickness. Here is a general play by play of our inevitable dehydration as habitual bubble blowers.
You packed your bags, stood in line at TSA, drank your coffee to keep the blood moving, and took the small cup of water passed down by the flight attendant. Jumping from flight, to layover, to flight, to cab, to finally the resort. How many times did you have to use the restroom? Honestly? You've already started your dive vacation off on a dehydrated note.
Now you have checked into your room, wandered around the resort, got your dive bags prepared for your 8am boat departure and found a nearby beach bar or restaurant. Soaking in the Jimmy Buffet band and snacking on your well earned nachos and mahi tacos, your salt intake and whatever alcoholic beverage you may or may not have indulged in is gradually adding to your liquid deficit.
All the travel, all the packing and money saving has lead to this moment. Now you're in the humid, tropical, paradise overlooking your dive boat and crew lugging your dive bags from the shop to the boat. You may have enjoyed a cup of coffee from the resort and followed that up with a glass of water or two, but does this compensate for what you've lost thus far?
DURING THE DIVES!
Number one rule of diving? "Just keep breathing!" The simple act of breathing dehydrates you! Condensation occurs as you breath out, even more so with that dry compressed air we breath as divers. Breathing compressed air can have you lose nearly 16oz of water in a 60 minute dive. They say there are two types of divers, those that pee in their wetsuit, and those that lie about it. If you're peeing you MUST be hydrated correct? Incorrect, peeing in your wetsuit occurs due to a little thing called immersion dieresis. That is a fancy word for your blood pooling from your limbs to keep warm after jumping into cooler water. Even those tropical climates, the water temperature is lower than our normal 96.8 degree core temperature. This pooling increases your blood pressure thus making you have to pee more, inevitably losing more hydration. After a
long day out on the sea there's a good chance you got a bit more sun that you had hoped. Sunburns also are a huge contributor to dehydration. Be sure to lather up with some reef safe sunscreen and stay under shade as much as possible.
Now that we have all this knowledge of how our bodies are struggling to stay hydrated what can we do to help or prevent this? The answer, stay actively hydrated. Keep your body hydrated on a constant especially the weeks leading up to a dive trip. On average we should be drinking at least 8, 8oz cups of water a day, however, asking your doctor for a more individualized amount is recommended. Avoid caffeine during travel and limit your alcohol consumption. DAN suggests we drink a cup of water 15-20 minutes before the dive rather than guzzle down a liter right before. They also suggest you eat food with plenty of water content ie fruits and veggies. Lastly, be sure to rinse off with fresh water post diving. The salt on your skin will continue to pull water from you.
We hope this article was helpful in keeping you happy and hydrated. We look forward to diving with you here at Aqua Action Dive Center in St. Thomas, USVI soon!