Health Status Overview

As you know, having an acute illness is not compatible with safe diving. Even the common cold will keep you out of the water temporarily — not only does it affect your ability to equalize the pressure in your ears and sinuses, it also affects your ability to exercise.

Gastrointestinal distress can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which may be life-threatening underwater. Some illnesses can affect your ability to exercise even after the acute phase. Illness and prolonged bed rest cause decline in cardiovascular fitness and loss of muscle mass. Even with a complete recovery, return to your pre-illness level of physical activity gradually, and understand that it may take weeks or longer.

COVID-19 is an illness that in severe cases requires a prolonged convalescent period and may significantly affect one’s ability to exercise. 


Health Status and Medical Evaluation

Follow the DAN Guidelines for Lifelong Fitness To Dive

Whether you were inactive for weeks or years, when planning your next trip, consult the one-page DAN Guidelines for Lifelong Medical Fitness to Dive, which will help you make the safest decision for yourself. If you are healthy and have recently been evaluated by a doctor, you may be directed to simply fill out the Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire (formerly known as the RSTC medical screening form). However, if you have been kept away by illness, have certain risk factors, or are over age 65, the self-evaluation will not be enough.


diver fills out medical form

Follow the Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire

The standard medical screening form used in diving was recently updated by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) with contributions from DAN and other organizations and endorsements by many World Recreational Scuba Training Council (WRSTC) members. The new Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire is a part of The Recreational Diving Medical Screening System, which also includes the Diver Medical Physician’s Evaluation Form and the Diving Medical Guidance to the Physician.

The Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire inquires about major health issues that may affect your fitness to dive. It is in your best interest to answer all questions honestly, as this is a tool that helps with your self-evaluation and is designed to keep you safe. Healthy divers and divers with well-controlled chronic illnesses may get a quick pass. Divers with other conditions may require evaluation by a medical professional. The questionnaire will help you identify those conditions and take the necessary next steps. The Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire is available in 26 languages.


doctor with patient in office

See Your Physician When Indicated

If the Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire indicates that you need to consult a physician (or if you simply wish to), do so. If your physician is not sure about how your health status or medical condition might affect your fitness to dive, check with DAN. We can offer advice, a consultation, or a referral to a dive medicine expert in your area.


When In Doubt, Contact DAN

When you or your physician is in doubt, contact DAN. The DAN website has an extensive library of medical information related to diving. You can also speak to a DAN medic for advice or a referral to a dive medicine specialist.


Additional Health Resources


DAN Customer Service

Mon–Fri, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET

+1 (919) 684-2948

+1 (800) 446-2671

Fax: +1 (919) 490-6630

Email: 

24/7 Emergency Hotline

In event of a dive accident or injury, call local EMS first, then call DAN.

24/7 Emergency Hotline:

+1 (919) 684-9111

(Collect calls accepted)

DAN must arrange transportation for covered emergency medical evacuation fees to be paid.

Medical Information Line

Get answers to your nonemergency health and diving questions.

Mon–Fri, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET

+1 (919) 684-2948, Option 4

Online: Ask A Medic

(Allow 24-48 hours for a response.)