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Common Motion Sickness Drug Could Impair Divers’ Judgment

Sept. 20, 2000 — Scuba diving can be an intoxicating encounter. But scientists at the College of Pittsburgh have found that a common nausea pharmaceutical, Dramamine, taken fair before a jump may deliver the mental equivalent of “one too many,” conceivably disabling judgment and raising the hazard of an accident. A moment think about by the same team, be that as it may, shows that pseudoephedrine, a medicate found in numerous sinus medications such as Sudafed, has as it were humble impacts on brain work and is probably secure for divers. Both considers show up in this month’s issue of the diary Pharmacotherapy.

Scuba jumpers are especially vulnerable to the mind-altering impacts of certain drugs because of the way discuss is conveyed from the tank. Nitrogen makes up approximately three-quarters of the discuss we breathe. When compressed into a scuba tank and breathed in beneath the tall pressures experienced at profundities of 33 feet or more, it can have a disorienting impact — kind of like taking some drinks. Undoubtedly, Kevin O’Toole, MD, one of the study creators, tells WebMD that every 33 feet a diver slips is the comparable of drinking one martini in its impact on the brain. Researchers call this condition “nitrogen narcosis,” but jumpers know it by a more lovely name — “rapture of the deep.”

To consider the effects of two prevalent, over-the-counter drugs when combined with nitrogen narcosis, the researchers put 30 experienced scuba jumpers in a hyperbaric chamber that reenacted the weight of a 66-foot plunge (two martinis). Whereas in the tank, the jumpers breathed the same sort of compressed air they would have in a scuba tank.

Forty-five minutes some time recently going on the “jump,” each subject took a pill containing pseudoephedrine, a decongestant numerous jumpers take to relieve weight in the sinuses or center ear; dimenhydrinate, the dynamic ingredient in most anti-seasickness items such as Dramamine; or a dummy pill. The tests were planned so that each person was tested with each drug.

The examiners chose these drugs because they are well known among scuba jumpers, and since each has been associated with side impacts that might misshape a diver’s judgment, particularly when combined with nitrogen narcosis. Pseudoephedrine has been connected with nervousness, excitability, and anxiety and may too cause a rapid or irregular pulse. Dimenhydrinate can make individuals greatly woozy or lazy.

Whereas in the chamber, the subjects performed various tasks of memory, verbal ability, and manual ability. Each person too wore a screen that recorded his or her heart rate and beat. They went through the same battery of tests whereas resting within the chamber at typical atmospheric pressure.

Indeed without the drugs, the participants displayed expanded anxiety and decreased verbal familiarity at conditions mimicking 66 feet under water, the analysts found. Pseudoephedrine created a slight increment in heart rate and associating with the profundity impact to increase the decay in verbal familiarity, but generally, the creators compose that “it is unlikely that pseudoephedrine includes critical chance to the jumper.”

Dimenhydrinate, on the other hand, was associated with much lower scores on a test that required the subjects to switch quickly between two tasks and may be a degree of mental adaptability. “We showed a unequivocal impairment [from dimenhydrinate], especially in combination with narcosis, and the deeper you go, the greater your decay,” says O’Toole, an experienced jumper who coordinates the hyperbaric medication program at the University of Pittsburgh. “I would not suggest that someone take this drug and jump.”

Add dimenhydrinate to the impacts of narcosis “and you’re really zonked,” says Murray Grossan, MD, a Los Angeles-based otolaryngologist and a scuba diver since 1970. He tells WebMD that many fatal diving accidents occur because jumpers ignore or disregard to observe the screens that tell them they’re low on air, which may be the result of disabled judgment created by narcosis. Grossan was not included within the study.

However, the potential impacts of pseudoephedrine on heart work ought to not be expelled, warns Claes Lundgren, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Investigate and Education in Extraordinary Environments at the State College of New York in Buffalo. People plunging at extraordinary depths may encounter an drenching impact, in which blood travels absent from the appendages and into the chest, where it may distend the heart and render it more vulnerable to the impacts of drugs that influence heart cadence. “This could be dependable for a number of scuba deaths that remained unexplained,” he tells WebMD.

Grossan says that his patients have found the scopolamine patch to be a good cure to nausea. They can expel it just before plunging or wear it in the water in the event that they jump with a hood. A few individuals moreover have had great luck with wristbands that compress certain pressure points and are detailed to relieve sickness.

“It’s worth noting that not one or the other of these drugs is allowed for commercial pilots,” says Lundgren. “Hazard could be a relative concept. [When it comes to plunging after taking one of these drugs], it’s truly for the individual to define for him- or herself what is acceptable.”

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