Diabetic Diving in The Red Sea
Ian Redfern on the left is a diver that has diabetes. He recently completed his 50th dive while diving in Sharm El Sheikh with us. He was in good company. His friend and dive buddy Steve Perry on the right also completed his 100th dive on the same day and the day before Jan Heath in the center also completed the Ton.
Ian Redfern measures his sugar level before and after each dive. Below is an account of his findings.
"After qualifying as an Advanced Open Water diver I was diagnosed as a type II diabetic and now have to regulate my blood sugar levels with a combination of diet and medication. After consultation with a specialist dive doctor and completing the medical checks I was given the all clear to continue diving. Recently I spent two weeks in Sharm El Sheikh diving with Elite Diving, and I advised the owner Alun Evans that I was a diabetic so that the dive guides were aware of any possible problems. Alun advised that he had previous guests with diabetes, and they had found that using Enriched Air reduced the drop in blood sugar levels during the course of a dive. As I had been considering becoming qualified to use Nitrox I agreed to take the course while I was out there and then monitor the changes in blood sugar levels.
The first few dives I used air and the results were typical of those I had found previously. For example, I dived at Shark Yolanda for 45 min to a max depth of 25m. My blood sugar was tested before entering the water and was 13.5 mmoi/l on leaving the water it was re-tested and was 5.8 mmoi/l. This was a drop of 7.1. A dive at Marsa Breika of 40 min to a max depth of 20m the blood sugar was 11.3 mmoi/l before and 8.6 mmoi/l after. As I started to use Enriched Air as part of the PADI course I continued to monitor the changes. It became apparent that my blood sugar dropped less when using Nitrox (32%) than when using air. For example I dived at Jackfish alley for 56 min at a max depth of 26m, my blood sugar was 10.3 mmoi/l before and 9.1 mmoi/l after, just a drop of 1.2. This was a significant reduction to the drop in sugar level.
A dive at Jackson reef of 40 min to a max depth of 28m, the blood sugar before was 8.6 mmoi/l and 6.5 mmoi/l after. Again just a small reduction of 2.1.
Before diving I always drink a high sugar fruit juice, a bar of chocolate or take glucose tablet to increase my sugar levels. This is as a result of consulting my diving doctor.
I recommend anyone who is diabetic to consult their doctor before diving as I’m sure each case may be very different. "
Steve Bryn Jones who origonates from Wolverhampton has also experienced the same decreased reduction in blood sugar as a result of diving on nitrox. It will be interesting to know what Dr Adel thinks of it all.