Medical Questions

Jacuzzi and diving

What possible impact does soaking in a jacuzzi (hot water with massaging jets) have on off-gassing and DCS? I see a lot of people going straight from the dive to the hot tub. Is this safe?

Answer from DAN experts:  

Getting into a hot tub immediately after diving does alter decompression stress. As with many factors, the net response can be positive or negative, depending on the magnitude of the inert gas load and the heat stress. The hot tub or hot shower will warm the extremities and enhance peripheral circulation which might facilitate inert gas washout (or inert gas elimination). Large inert gas loads, however, can be problematic. Since the solubility of gas is inversely related to temperature, tissues will hold less in solution as they warm. Warming tissue with significant gas loads can promote bubble formation. Since the warming of the superficial tissues precedes the increase in blood flow, such bubbles can pose problems before the increased circulation can remove them. There is no simple formula to compute what constitutes a minor, significant or substantial peripheral inert gas load. The actual conditions vary as a function of the individual, thermal protection, physical activity and dive profile. My approach is to stack as many factors as possible in my favour to compensate for the Murphy effect we frequently see in decompression sickness. I encourage a simple rule of thumb– delayed gratification. Enjoy the thought of the hot tub or shower for a while instead of jumping in immediately.

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