(Q) Hello DocVikingo,
I tend to swallow air while diving and get gas with cramping and belching upon ascent. This is very unpleasant. Anything I can do? Thanks. t-d-g.
(A) Hi t-d-g,
Swallowing air during a dive, called aerophagia, is not uncommon in newer divers. Also, divers who are overweight seem to have an increased frequency of such complaints.
As you’ve noticed, air in the stomach at the time of ascent will expand according to Boyle’s Law. Painful abdominal cramps, along with burping and flatulence, can ensue. More seriously, given sufficient trapped air and a rapid enough ascent, the stomach actually can rupture.
Prevention is the best management of the problem. To reduce the likelihood of swallowing air, or otherwise getting unwanted gas in the stomach: perform Valsalva maneuvers with the head up, not down; don’t drink carbonated beverages or eat heavy meals prior to diving; don’t chew gum or anything else while diving; make sure the second stage is properly tuned (too low a cracking pressure is the real worry here); and, concentrate on taking, smooth, long and regular inhalations and exhalations.
This is educational only and does not constitute or imply a doctor-patient relationship. It is not medical advice to you or any other individual and should not be construed as such. Consult with your physician before diving.