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Dear Doc
As a result of a recent blood test, my GP has suggested I take Lipitor Tablets 40mg (atorvastatin) for my cholesterol level. It is currently 5.5. She was unable to confirm whether taking these would affect my diving, so I would be grateful if you could comment on the suitablity or not of these tablets.

Have you ever wondered why the drug companies are not bothered too much about the Great Recession?

Have you seen the gleeful looks on the company CEOs' faces as they pop down to their Malibu beach houses in Learjets? Well, we have statins to thank for all that. When these drugs were launched, it was felt they were only useful for people with high cardiac risk factors and high cholesterol. But over the years I have seen the starting level of cholesterol drop from 5-6 all the way down to 3.

A recent paper even suggested those with normal cholesterol could benefit from a statin.
The Underwater Channel

Hence the CEOs' smirks. They've just seen the potential patient base go from a few thousand to the whole damn world. And a lot of them are still on patent which keeps the dollars flowing in as quick as RBS used to see it going out. But hush now, here's a little secret and keep it to yourselves. For every 60 people on a statin, it only saves 1 extra life. Not a lot considering how "amazing" these meds are supposed to be. In fact Niacin, available in health food shops is more effective and many times cheaper. Ssshhh we don't want to see DrugCorp's share price drop do we?

But there's more to stopping your ticker from tocking than a statin. "Lose weight lardy boy and stop faggin' it". That's what my GP says to me. So get your other risks assessed and decreased, then chill sweet diver, these drugs won't stop you from strapping on a tank.
Dear Doc
Can you please tell me if HIV prevents you from scuba diving? I've been positive for about six years, but have been in good overall health (reasonable T-cell count) and have never had to take any medication for my condition. I am considering taking lessons, so I would appreciate your advice.

That's pretty incredible. 6 years post sero-conversion and no real effects on your T cells. Way to go. There's good news too, as there is no bar to diving if you are HIV positive. You should get a dive doc to pass you as fit to dive. This is due to the problem that can arise if you go to a new dive centre and fill in the medical form. It's best not to rely on offshore attitudes to HIV. You may end up being rejected on a whim.

Dear Doc
I find articles on "health safety" issues very informative and interesting! So I guess we owe you and your font of knowledge a big debt of gratitude.

Well now all that obsequiousness is over and done with I have a health question for you.

Just recently I have been diagnosed with... B.P.H. benign prostatic hyperplasia, at 44 yrs. Would the subscription Flomax MR (one capsule of Tamsulosin Hydrochloride 367 microgams per capsule) affect me in any way as I have not dived for 18 months? Please can you advise.

Awesome. I'm glad you love health safety. It normally sends me to sleep when I read about it. Too many BMJs at med school at an age when I was legally allowed to go top shelf. There's a career out there for you mate, and you get to go to all the dive shows for free. Yes, the Health and Safety Executive await your call. An index-linked pension AND you get to close down building sites. The power in your hands would only be mismatched by the lack of power in your urine stream with BPH. This is a pisser of a problem to get at 44. 64, yes, but you seem to have it a tad early in life. The prostate swells up benignly making you pee often and little and at night too. The drug they give slowly shrinks the love-walnut back to normal so you can hose down the graffiti above the urinal like the rest of us. It's fine with diving though, but if it hasn't quite cracked the problem you are going to find it a real pain on long deco stops if you normally pee every hour. So best get the mother of all dive-diapers to keep your dry suit acceptable for an ebay sell on.

Dear Doc
My thyroid has gone slightly overactive. I get physically exhausted after the simplest thing, like cleaning the house. I feel the cold easily in the water and seem to get out of breath easier than other people and tire easily and get very weak. Is this the thyroid problem causing this? Will I have any problems with diving this year due to any heart palpitations etc? Any clues to what is going on here? Thanks. My GP doesn't understand my need to dive and told me to come back after three months for another blood test without changing my medication.

You bet your sweet ass you're going to have problems diving with untreated overactive thyroid. From what you say your life has changed with these symptoms, yet your GP wants to wait three more months with what is obviously an insufficiently corrected problem. This makes Hulk angry... what a muppet. If you are knackered hoovering then your problem is still there. So sort it out now not in three months. Moron GP. You would think the tax payer giving them 150k a year with no on-call would buy you some efficiency.

As I do not recommend you dive whilst still over active you need to get sorted asap. And thyroid isn't rocket science. If it's overactive then block with drugs or chop it out. If it's underactive then juice it up with meds. Simple. Once your gland is harmonised with this beautiful earth then you will be fine to dive.

(Here's a little known dive trick to pull on the doc. Tell them you want to do a professional dive course, and so as it is "work" they normally act a whole lot faster than if they think it's a bit of a hobby. Don't say I said so though.)

Dear Doc
While I was away on a 2 week business trip, my boyfriend broke his hand gardening, had pins put in yesterday, and is now in a cast. We are going on a diving holiday on Thursday and his surgeon has signed a letter saying he is fit to dive as long as he keeps the cast dry.
He bought some waterproof covers, which on arrival don't appear to have a proper seal.
Do you have any suggestions on ways to keep the cast dry? Thanks for any help you can offer.
Kind regards

Lady, I hate to be the one who tells you, but someone has to. When you go away for a fortnight your boyfriend doesn't do the gardening. That's why he broke his hand. You're lucky he didn't dislocate his elbow too. Why do you think monks have those long wide sleeves? Yes, to cover their casts.

So now you're with the programme lets see how we can help. If there are pins in there still, then there are pin entry points in the skin. A joyous tunnel for bacteria to enter when wet. Result: infection in the pins, bone infection and one pissed off hand.

How do you guarantee 100% that a cast can be kept dry on a dive? Unless they've invented the triple stitched blind neoprene arm with the cuff wide enough to go over a cast and be tight enough to seal at the elbow, then you can't.
So don't go thinking Tescos bag and duck tape, something will go wrong. I suggest he waits until the cast is off and skin healed before diving.

So you go on the liveaboard and hope when you come back that he hasn't broken the other one.

The views expressed above are those of the Dive Doc himself and are in part due to his upbringing.

If you have any medical questions, please feel free to annotate your medical qualms in fine ink upon parchment and use Her Majesty's Royal Mail. Or use this website.

e-med Arabic

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