Wisdom has it that there are three phases to seasickness: when you are scared that you are going to get sick, when you are so sick that you are scared you will die, and when you are so sick you’re scared you won’t die. None of these is conducive to having a great dive. If you know that you suffer from motion sickness, it is worthwhile taking some preventative medicine with you. Fortunately, many options exist, although they all have potential side-effects. Commonly recommended agents include cinnarizine (Stugeron®), hyoscine butylbromide/hydrobromide (Scopoderm®/Buscopan®), prochloroperazine (Stemetil®), ondansetron (Zofran®) or dimenhydremate (Dizinil®). Side effects of these medications include many conditions that may make diving unsafe, such as blurred vision, drowsiness and confusion. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that each individual tries the medication in question before the trip to test for any adverse effects. Most people can find a drug that works for them. Recently, more attention has turned to the use of phenytoin (Dilantin®), an antiepileptic medication that has been shown to be very effective in preventing motion sickness. Although it is not without the potential for side effects, it appears to be very safe, but it requires a prescription and few doctors are aware of this use.
Like any marine environment, Mozambican waters contain various creatures that can deliver venom through a bite or sting. Fortunately, most are avoidable. Bites from sea snakes are so rare as not to warrant discussion. Stingrays, stonefish, lionfish and other vertebrate stings are immediately excruciatingly painful (and occasionally lethal), but their protein-based poison is inactivated by hot water. (Think hot bath, not boiling kettle). Jellyfish stings are fairly common, but there are no known species that are regarded as life-threatening to a healthy adult human. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make the stings any more pleasant. A Lycra® or neoprene exposure suit will offer good protection. If you are stung, treatment is determined by the offending species: the Portuguese Man O’War requires hot water, while box jellyfish require an acidic solution such as vinegar. Liberal washing with clean water will be helpful in all cases. Do not use solutions such as alcohol or suntan lotion.
Road Trip Mozambique Photo Gallery
Flying after diving
Don’t forget that although most passenger aircraft are pressurised, the cabin pressure is still much lower than at sea level, and decompression sickness can occur if you fly too soon afer diving. The generally accepted guidelines are for a minimum of 12 hours after a single dive, or 24 hours afer performing multiple or deep dives. This includes single dives over successive days. (Some consider 18 hours sufficient). When making your travel plans, remember to allow a full day between your last dive and your flight home, and then stick to this plan. This is often a good time to book a non-diving activity in the local area, to help you avoid the temptation to do just one more dive!
DIVING MEDICAL EMERGENCIES
Safe diving practices
Remember that you are in a remote location with limited support. Conservative diving practices with safe profiles, modest bottom times and mandatory safety stops are advised for all dives. While it is ideal for every diver to have a dive computer, taking along (and knowing how to use) dive tables will help if the batteries go flat. Plan the deepest dive of the day as the first dive, and allow generous surface intervals.