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Genito-Urinary - Prostate

Dr Jules Eden, dive medicine specialist and founder of e-med, answers divers' questions - as published in Sport Diver magazine:
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Q - I find articles on health safety issues very informative and interesting, so I guess we owe you and your font of knowledge a big debt of gratitude. Well now all that obsequiousness is over and done with I have a health question for you. Just recently I have been diagnosed with... BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia). At 44 yrs, would the subscription of one capsule of tamsulosin hydrochloride 367 micrograms per capsule affect me in any way as I have not dived for 18 teen months. Please can you advise.

A - As we head into the dank winter months a bit of blatant ego massaging never goes amiss, so thank you for your kind words. I have a few for you too: you can happily continue to dive with an enlarged prostate. There are, as usual, one or two caveats. The profound diuresis (increased urine production) that immersion in water induces can become more problematic with existing BPH, so take care to empty your bladder before and after each dive (and preferably not during, unless you’re wearing someone else’s wetsuit of course). Tamsulosin, or “Flomax” (its deliciously literal trade name), can cause significant nasal congestion, so you’d be wise to make sure you can equalise properly in the shallows before leaping into the depths. It can also drop your blood pressure, which shouldn’t be an issue unless your BP is low already, in which case it may cause you to feel faint or short of breath. Again, a few cautious shallow dives should highlight any impending problems or susceptibility to this.

Q - I have just been diagnosed with prostrate cancer. Radical surgery advised within 4-6 weeks. Can I dive in the meantime? NO symptoms. Also can I dive in the future and when. Doc's at hospital NOT very astute re diving etc. Thanks.

A - Poor you. I hope it all works out. If you are asymptomatic, no metastases to the bone, or local invasion to important vessels, and you feel well enough then diving is no problem. Once its been removed, and you have been given the all clear, then give it a few weeks and diving should be fine too.

Point to note here, thank medical science for progress. In the old days one of the cures for prostate cancer was orchidectomy. That’s castration to you and me. Ouch.

(other dive medical questions)


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