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Health Issues for Dive Instructors

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Being a scuba instructor or divemaster is a dream job and lifestyle for many people; you can work in exotic locations around the world, spending every day diving or enjoying an ocean view from the dive shop. Though it may seem perfect, many people are unaware that dive instructors must deal with a lot of career-related health issues. As with any adventure sport, some risk is involved — humans are not made to breathe underwater, so every time a diver descends, he is completely dependent upon his equipment, skills and emergency training to ensure that he surfaces safely.

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As an instructor, you must worry not only about your own equipment, depth and buoyancy, but also that of your diver trainees, who are depending on you to keep them safe. It is common for instructors to risk their lives in order to stop a rapidly ascending diver, a panicked diver, or simply an inexperienced diver who doesn't yet have mastery of his equipment. Instructors must watch every diver and constantly monitor air, depth and time for everyone.

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Instructors also spend a lot of time in hotel pools, which can cause ear infections. They must religiously clean their ears in order to avoid problems. Being in the water for so many hours a day also makes it impossible for scrapes, sores or bug bites to heal. If a diver has a small cut, which in normal circumstances would heal within a few days, it softens in the water and then scabs for a short time while the diver is out of the water. The wound doesn’t have enough time to fully heal since the diver jumps in the water again few hours later, re-softening the wound. So the scab falls off and the wound becomes larger, creating an ulcer. This can carry on for days and days, and the ulcer becomes deeper and deeper. Eventually some instructors ban themselves from the water for weeks in order to heal their cuts and scrapes, a difficult decision in a job that requires you to dive all day long. These inconveniences, though, should not discourage prospective instructors. Divers, should however, approach the job with the appropriate amount of respect and forethought. And in the end, though these issues are a reality for many instructors, any of them would tell you that it is well worth it.

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