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What Happens If You Sneeze While Scuba Diving?

What Happens If You Sneeze While Scuba Diving?

Sneezing while scuba diving can be a somewhat unusual and challenging experience, primarily due to the constraints imposed by the diving equipment and environment.

If you sneeze while scuba diving this could disrupt your mask and create water leaks, or you could dislodge your regulator at the same time as momentarily affecting your buoyancy. During the sneeze you should hold on to your mask and regulator to minimise the affect of the sneeze while scuba diving.

Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Mask Disruption: When you sneeze, there’s a possibility that it can dislodge your mask or create leaks. The force of the sneeze can cause your mask to shift, allowing water to enter. This can temporarily impair your vision and require readjustment or clearing of the mask.
  2. Regulator Disruption: Sneezing can momentarily disrupt your breathing pattern, especially if you are exhaling or inhaling at the time. While scuba diving, you rely on a regulator to supply a constant flow of air, and sneezing might interfere with the process. It’s essential to maintain control and continue breathing regularly to avoid any complications.
  3. Buoyancy Control: Sneezing unexpectedly can cause you to momentarily lose focus on maintaining neutral buoyancy. This might lead to a change in your depth, which could result in potential risks, such as ascending too quickly or descending further than intended. It’s crucial to stay aware of your surroundings and buoyancy control.
  4. Communication Difficulties: Scuba divers often rely on hand signals and underwater communication devices to interact with their dive buddies. Sneezing can disrupt communication momentarily, making it challenging to convey messages or communicate any issues effectively. However, this is typically a temporary inconvenience.

Overall, while sneezing underwater can create temporary complications, scuba divers are generally trained to handle such situations and maintain safety protocols. It’s crucial to remain calm, address any issues that arise promptly, and resume normal diving procedures after ensuring your comfort and safety.

Whilst I’ve never sneezed underwater when diving, what I would do if this happened would be to hold my mask and regulator during the sneeze. By holding the regulator you prevent this from being pushed from your mouth as you sneeze. By holding your mask, this will help to limit the water that enters during the sneeze too.

If your mask fills with water during or after a sneeze when diving, it is simple to follow the steps to clear your mask of water afterwards.

Is it bad to scuba dive with a stuffy nose?

Scuba diving with a stuffy nose can potentially be problematic and is generally not recommended. Here’s why:

  1. Equalisation Difficulties: Clearing your ears is a critical aspect of scuba diving. By equalising the pressure in your middle ear with the ambient pressure, you prevent discomfort and potential injury to your ears. A congested or stuffy nose can make equalisation more challenging or even impossible, leading to discomfort or, in severe cases, barotrauma, which is an injury caused by pressure changes.
  2. Sinus Squeeze: A congested or stuffy nose can hinder the proper equalisation of your sinuses. When descending, the increasing water pressure can cause a squeeze on your sinus cavities. If your nasal passages are blocked or congested, the air trapped in your sinuses cannot equalise effectively, leading to pain, potential injury, or sinus barotrauma.
  3. Increased Mucus Production: When you have a stuffy nose, your body tends to produce more mucus. This excess mucus can obstruct your airways or interfere with the proper functioning of your diving equipment, such as the regulator. It can also increase the risk of mask leaks, reducing visibility and potentially compromising your safety.
  4. Increased Risks: Diving with a congested or stuffy nose can increase the risks associated with diving, such as disorientation, reduced awareness, and impaired judgment. Additionally, it may be a symptom of an underlying respiratory infection, which can worsen due to the changes in pressure during diving.

If you have a stuffy nose or congestion, it’s advisable to postpone your dive until you have fully recovered and your nasal passages are clear.

It’s always important to prioritise your health and safety when engaging in scuba diving activities. If you have concerns or persistent congestion, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional who is familiar with diving medicine for guidance specific to your situation.

You may also want to know about coughing when diving: What Happens If You Cough While Scuba Diving.

If you may be interested to learn more about liveaboard diving boats as a way to enjoy diving and to get more diving experience. If you are please take a look at the following window:

I hope you enjoyed this article about what happens if you sneeze while scuba diving?

I’d love to hear from you. Tell us about your adventures of diving and snorkelling. Please use the comments section below. Please also share your photos. Either from your underwater cameras or videos from your waterproof go-pro’s!

If this article hasn’t answered all of your questions. If you have more questions either about snorkelling or scuba diving (or specifically about what happens if you sneeze while scuba diving), please comment below with your questions.

There will also be many more articles about scuba and scuba diving safety tips (and on snorkelling too) for you to read and learn about this fabulous sport.

Have fun and be safe!

What Happens If You Sneeze While Scuba Diving?

Article written by Russell Bowyer who has been a scuba diver since diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia in 1989. After his first dive he trained as a BSAC diver in the UK. He attained his Diver Leader certification with BSAC. He then went on to become a scuba diving instructor, teaching others how to dive and was voted as Diving Officer and Treasurer for the Saffron Walden BSAC club too. Russell has dived all over the world, including the UK, on liveaboards in the Red Sea, the Caribbean, South Africa and the USA. Russell is experienced in all dive types, including drift diving, deep dives that involved decompression stops and recreational dives too.

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