Having the occasional headache when diving in is not really much of a deal, so it is really only those who regularly experience such discomfort that need to address the possible causes. The reasons why you might have a headache are too numerous to list but, assuming you are a normal healthy person who doesn’t suffer frequent headaches in normal life, what can it be that is causing you this pain?
Could it be your mask?
Is your mask too tight? Remember the mask strap isn’t meant to be pulled tight as if it will come off otherwise. A well-fitted mask can stay on underwater with a good seal even when the strap is hanging loose, so make sure that you haven’t tightened your mask too much. Also as the depth increases so too do the air spaces decrease including the air space inside your mask. This causes mask squeeze easily solved by allowing a little air to escape from your nose into the mask. Failure to do this can obviously cause you a headache as well as an unsightly mask mark on the face which won’t impress that incredibly good looking person on the dive boat.
Is it your tank position?
How far down the tank is your BCD strap? Everyone has their own preferences but if others assemble your gear it may not be just the way you like it. Sometimes a tank is so high on the back that the diver needs to keep their neck bent forward to avoid collisions between the top of the tank and the back of the head. This constant tension can soon lead to pain. So make sure your kit set up doesn’t restrict your movement.
How many coffees and cigarettes did you get through before the dive?
We have all seen divers, especially on liveaboards puff through a couple of smokes and gulp down a large caffeine-heavy cuppa in the morning before taking the plunge. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that such stimulants have an effect on the body and its organs that can cause headaches. After all, we are designed to drink pure liquids and to breathe air, so it may be worth looking at your pre-dive routine before blaming diving for your sore head. Incidentally a big night of boozing the evening before is clearly a more likely cause of a dehydration headache the following day than anything to do with the activity of diving.
Perhaps our lifestyles also need a little buoyancy control when finding a balance between the good life above and below the water. Hope these suggestions help to make your scuba diving more fun and pain-free.
Gavin Macaulay is Marketing Director of Dive The World which aims to help divers find the perfect scuba diving holiday in some of the world’s most exciting dive destinations. He offers opinions and advice on diving related topics based on his own experiences.