How to Ease an Upset Stomach Before a Dive

Few things can mess up a great dive like gastrointestinal troubles. Fortunately, whether it’s acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, or just a bit of nerves, there are several things you can do. With a bit of planning, you can quite simply and efficiently ease your upset stomach before a dive.

Severe acid reflux during a dive can actually be dangerous, causing fluid to rise into your esophagus. If you suffer from frequent, severe heartburn or acid reflux, you may want to talk to your doctor before diving. However, if your acid reflux is mild or intermittent, you can simply take a few precautions.

For several days before the dive, avoid drinking alcohol and smoking. Alcohol relaxes the esophageal muscles, and smoking spikes the acidic content. Additionally, eat a little less than you normally would the evening before the dive. Stick to simple carbohydrate foods (like pasta, potatoes, or rice), and stay away from anything spicy to prevent an upset stomach before a dive.

Diarrhea is another culprit that can ruin an otherwise perfect dive. Especially if you are traveling, this condition can result from contact with e.coli, or simply eating unfamiliar food. Prevent traveler's diarrhea by washing your hands thoroughly before you eat, drinking only bottled water, and eating only well-cooked foods. If you’ve got a mild case of the runs anyway, you can ease your upset stomach prior to a dive by taking some over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication like Imodium AD.

Of course, stomach problems can also go in the opposite direction. Constipation may not cause as much immediate worry as diarrhea, but constipation usually a buildup of trapped gas in your digestive tract. As any diver probably knows, this can cause serious discomfort during a dive. Prevent constipation before a dive drink plenty of water and eat plenty of fiber. For at least a week prior to your dive, drink at 8-12 glasses of water and be sure to fresh vegetables and whole grains — great sources of natural fiber!

Even if you’ve never had issues, it's still a good idea to take it easy on your stomach leading up to the dive to avoid potential feelings of nausea from being overfull. Eat a light dinner the night before, and a smaller breakfast that morning, like a protein bar and a banana. Don't forget to drink a glass or two of water.Finally, if nerves are giving you a little upset stomach before a dive, try taking some deep breaths. You can also try drinking a small cup of mint tea, or munching on a ginger chew to ease your nervous tummy.

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