It’s not a secret, that smoking is one of the main evils of the world, which causes thousands of illnesses and deaths. In spite of the efforts the mass media makes, trying to make people realize how dangerous smoking may be for a human health, every year millions of people all over the world start smoking.
When one is addicted to smoking, it is nearly impossible to make him understand the damages smoking causes. It seems that nicotine blinds the wise. Many people all over the world change their lifestyles because of smoking. Singers spoil their beautiful voices and cease singing, dancers leave their favorite hobby because of breathing problems, and numerous sportsmen give up their activities because of their weakened organisms. The same and much more refers to scuba divers.
Effects of smoking are especially significant for the people who are engaged in scuba diving. The review of the scientific literature, devoted to the reactions of body to smoking and predilection for nicotine, shows, how smoking can have affect on your capabilities while diving. And though the restrictions caused by the influence of tobacco on health are vary depending on intensity of smoking, tobacco always makes a certain impact on human health.
Have you heard about Framingem research? Framingem research is the most extensive studies concerning the impact of smoking on human’s health. Five thousand people have been intensively observed in the course of 34 years. Thus, the researchers collected a considerable amount of statistical information on smokers. For instance, a smoker of thirty years may reduce his life by 5 years smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Lung, skin, stomach, pancreas, mouth and throat cancers are common illnesses among smokers. Lung and heart diseases, temporary lameness and apoplexy are also frequent among smokers. In short, smokers put their lives under a grand risk.
Smokers, as a rule, have great problems with inhalation caused by the defective function of the lungs. The lungs of the children, having started to smoke at the age of about 14, 15 are greatly damaged. As compared with non-smoking children, only the 92 percent (at most) of their lungs effectively function. The saddest thing about all this is that this loss of functions is an irretrievable one.
It’s obvious, that divers should have a very good breathing system not to come across to any serious problems while diving. Violations of blood circulation may have harmful effects on the withdrawal of inert gases and oxygen delivery of muscle tissues, which significantly affects the safety of divers. As a result of smoking the bone tissues are weakened, which can cause high blood pressure.
Now let’s learn about how tobacco smoking can lead to such dangerous consequences. According to the studies, the cigarette smoke contains four hazardous substances: carcinogen, irritants, nicotine and toxic gases. So how do the above mentioned substances impact on human’s organism?
Carcinogens, the primarily polycyclic aromatic alcohols, are the main cancer creators. They greatly influence the areas that are in direct contact with the cigarette smoke. Besides, they can affect the organs due to the blood stream.
Irritants cause unbearable cough, tumor formation and bronchial mucus in the lungs of the human.
Nicotine is also a very powerful enemy of humans. It penetrates into the body, thus poisoning the brains. As a result, the nervous system and the human brain undergo considerable changes. Nicotine causes addictiveness towards cigarettes both physically and psychologically. Together with cigarette smoke people inhale poisonous gases, including carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, cyanide and carbon.
The irritating substances, present in cigarette smoke, may cause chronic inflammation of alveoli. Consequently, the body begins to produce proteolytic enzymes that deplete the alveolar tissues. The cigarette smoke so much weakens the lungs’ function, that the latters become incapable of protecting themselves from outer damages. The longer the human breathes the smoke, the more he damages his lungs.
In other words, the gaseous metabolism is being broken, and the air or other gases do not reach the blood for exchange. For checking the function of the lungs a test is organized: a forced expiration volume per second (FEV1). This is the amount of the air that you can breathe out in one second. Framingem studies have shown that the smokers’ FEV1 is declined to 80% from normal. These function changes reduce the effectiveness of ventilation.
Nicotine is a real drug which is dangerously addictive. It causes the formation of platelets and fibrinogens that block small blood vessels. These factors increase the risk of diving and decompression. The heart rate is increased. So is the oxygen consumption. The heart vessels are compressed, thus making serious obstacles for peripheral circulation. The violation of peripheral circulation leads to even more problems, such as extremely high blood pressure and poor blood circulation on the periphery of the body.
While diving in the cold areas of the water, the divers start to freeze. In this case it is very important to have normal blood circulation, especially in the joint areas. Researches have shown that smoking significantly reduces the circulation of the blood vessels. As a result, the gas exchange worsens and the risk of decompression increases.
Smoking can also lead to hypoxia. Chronic hypoxia means constant control, taking no risks, no extreme lifestyle, and consequently no scuba diving.
Smokers and their diver-buddies should consider not only long-term influence on health, but also immediate consequences of smoking during the dive. Take into consideration the high probability of death connected with sudden cardiac arrest, decompression, barotrauma as well as other illnesses connected with the expansion of lungs. Considering all the risks and diseases connected with simultaneous smoking and diving, what possible justification (except the addiction) can exist to continue to smoke? People who have the unhealthy drug addiction should be encouraged and inspired to address for help to be released from the bad habit.
Note that most deaths are associated with cardio-vascular system. Cardiac arrhythmia, myocardial infarction and stroke occur quite often because of damage caused to cardio-vascular system. Now, taking into account all this, I would like to ask if a smoker can be a good diver and reliable companion while diving. Will he be able to help his friends in case of need, or wouldn’t he be the one who always creates problems?
When nervous, the heart begins to accelerate faster, and the breath rhythm increases. Increase of a heart rhythm is the number one reason that leads to the increased rate of oxygen consumption by a cardiac muscle, and the smoker’s heart begins to cope with the increasing oxygen requirement with difficulty. As a result, the gas exchange in the lungs worsens, the gas expense increases, and the ability of rendering assistance to other divers decreases. The list of how smoking leads to deterioration of gas exchange and creates potential for decompression illnesses, is very long.
The lungs are directly damaged by smoking. Tests show, that the volume of the ventilation of the lungs, as well as vital volume of them (it decreases for at least 10 %) decreases. Together with the decrease of the lungs’ functions, their ability of deducing vials falls, and the risk of decompression illnesses increases.
While diving the human body undergoes numerous changes. One of these changes is the mammalian diving reflex. This means that while diving the human heart is put under a great strain. This very thing explains the numerous heart attacks occurred under the water. Smokers, of course, have a much higher risk of having heart attack than the non-smokers. Just imagine how dangerous the combination of smoking and mammalian diving reflex may be.
I want to warn one thing to all people. If you want to be a good diver, never start smoking. Each cigarette may affect your organism in this or that way. Of course, there are very many divers who claim that they feel great, though once they used to smoke. Quitting smoking indeed improves the state of a human organism, but the damages the smoke causes are never cured.
Now summing up everything, let me bring out the damages smoking may cause to you:
- Lung diseases
- Heart diseases (increased risk of cardiac attacks)
- Throat diseases
- Violation of gas exchange in the organism
- Violation of blood circulation
- High blood pressure
- Chronic cough
- Weakened joints
- And many, many other illnesses smoking may cause.
As you know, scuba divers pass a very serious medical examination before being allowed to dive. Unhealthy people are almost always deprived of the right to dive.
As you see, smoking and scuba diving are two very different things. They can never be safely combined with one another.