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## What Elevation is Safe After Scuba Diving?

Scuba diving is an exhilarating and rewarding activity that allows us to explore the underwater world. However, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with diving, including decompression sickness (DCS). DCS can occur when a diver ascends too quickly from a dive, causing nitrogen bubbles to form in the body. These bubbles can cause pain, joint stiffness, numbness, and paralysis.

### The Importance of Gradual Ascent

Ascending gradually from a dive is the key to preventing DCS. The slower you ascend, the more time your body has to release nitrogen. The recommended ascent rate is 30 feet per minute (9 meters per minute). This rate allows your body to off-gas nitrogen gradually, reducing the risk of DCS.

### Altitude and DCS

Altitude plays a role in DCS risk because the lower the atmospheric pressure, the easier it is for nitrogen bubbles to form. At higher altitudes, the atmospheric pressure is lower, so the risk of DCS is greater.

The following table shows the recommended maximum altitude that you can ascend to after a dive, based on the depth of your dive and the amount of time you spent at that depth:

| Dive Depth | Maximum Altitude |
|—|—|
| 0-30 feet | 10,000 feet |
| 30-60 feet | 8,000 feet |
| 60-90 feet | 6,000 feet |
| 90-120 feet | 4,000 feet |
| 120-150 feet | 2,000 feet |
| Over 150 feet | Not recommended to ascend to altitude |

### Other Factors that Affect DCS Risk

In addition to altitude, there are other factors that can affect your risk of DCS, including:

Age: Older divers are more at risk for DCS than younger divers.
Weight: Overweight divers are more at risk for DCS than underweight divers.
Fitness level: Fit divers are less at risk for DCS than unfit divers.
Dehydration: Dehydrated divers are more at risk for DCS than hydrated divers.
Alcohol consumption: Alcohol consumption can increase your risk of DCS.
Smoking: Smoking can increase your risk of DCS.

### How to Minimize Your Risk of DCS

The best way to minimize your risk of DCS is to:

Ascend gradually from your dive.
Avoid flying or going to high altitudes after a dive.
Drink plenty of fluids before and after your dive.
Avoid alcohol consumption before and after your dive.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Get regular exercise.
Consult with a doctor if you have any concerns about DCS.

### Conclusion

Scuba diving is a safe and enjoyable activity, but it’s important to be aware of the risks, including DCS. By understanding the factors that affect DCS risk and taking steps to minimize your risk, you can help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable diving experience.

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