Previously published in The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 22 (4): 399-407 (2009) Reprinted in the JSOM with permission granted by the Chief Editor of the The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Recreational scuba diving is a growing sport worldwide, with an estimated 4 million sport divers in the United States alone. Because divers may seek medical care for a disorder acquired in a remote location, physicians everywhere should be familiar with the physiology, injury patterns, and treatment of injuries and illnesses unique to the underwater environment. Failure to properly recognize, diagnose, and appropriately treat some diving injuries can have catastrophic results. In addition, recreational dive certification organizations require physical examinations for medical clearance to dive. This article will review both common and potentially life-threatening conditions associated with diving and will review current evidence behind fitness to dive considerations for elderly divers and those with common medical conditions.