Can You Scuba Dive With Epilepsy?

10th August 2021

For many people, being diagnosed with epilepsy will mean having to make compromises or adjustments to the way they live their lives in order to ensure safety. One such question that often arises is whether a person who has been diagnosed with epilepsy will be able to continue with the sports, hobbies and interests that they had before a diagnosis was made. 

In most cases, with reasonable adjustments the vast majority of hobbies can be continued safely. However, there are some exceptions where activities may be deemed too dangerous to partake in for someone who has epilepsy and is at risk of having a seizure. Unfortunately, one of these activities is scuba diving. It is not advisable to go scuba diving if you have epilepsy and most diving authorities will not allow someone with epilepsy to dive. 

It is also unlikely that you would be able to get insurance to dive to cover you in the event of injury or fatality. 

Why People With Epilepsy Should Avoid Scuba Diving

You might be wondering why it’s not advised to dive with epilepsy, and the answer is exactly as you might expect. The nature of diving means that people can get stuck in vulnerable positions underwater, which would have a high chance of fatality if a seizure should occur at depth. 

The risk of a seizure can actually be increased whilst diving as a person is subjected to a variety of potential triggers, including fatigue, psychological stress, sensory deprivation, anxiety and hyperventilation, all of which are common to experience whilst diving. 

It’s about risk management, and the risk of scuba diving is far too great to risk unnecessarily. 

Are There Any Exceptions? 

The majority of diving authorities will not allow diving for a person with epilepsy, regardless of how long it’s been since a person’s last seizure. A smaller minority will consider it, but only after five years with no seizures after discontinuation of medication. 

Although there are a small number of exceptions, as detailed above, we would strongly recommend anyone with epilepsy to consider the heightened risk they would be putting themselves at. 

What About Alternatives? 

Whilst scuba diving may not be an option for people with epilepsy, there are still many sports and activities that can be enjoyed! Popular alternatives that are considered to be safe as long as reasonable precautions made and safety equipment utilised include: 

  • Biking (all forms) 
  • Contact sports (football, rugby, basketball etc)
  • Non-contact sports (tennis, cricket etc)
  • Running, jogging and walking 

Water sports and swimming in general can be risky for a person with epilepsy. However, with some additional safety precautions many of these can still be enjoyed. Read our blog on swimming and epilepsy for more information. 

As a compromise, you may be able to simulate the experience of diving in a controlled environment, such as a pool, provided there are reasonable precautions taken and emergency intervention can be achieved if required. 

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