Vol 71, No 3 (2020)
Original article
Published online: 2020-09-28

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The changes in pulmonary functions in occupational divers: smoking, diving experience, occupational group effects

Kubra Ozgok-Kangal1, Kubra Canarslan-Demır1, Taylan Zaman1, Kemal Sımsek1
Pubmed: 33001433
IMH 2020;71(3):201-206.


Background: Diving challenges the respiratory system because of the pressure changes, breathing gases, and cardiovascular effects. We aimed to analyse the long term effect of occupational diving on pulmonary functions in terms of diving experience (year), smoking history, and occupational groups (commercial divers and SCUBA instructors).
Materials and methods: We retrospectively analysed respiratory system examination results of the experienced occupational divers who were admitted to the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine Department for periodic medical examination between January 1, 2013 and February 28, 2019.
Results: Sixty-four divers applied to our department. Candidate divers were not included in our study. The mean diving experience (year) was 13.6 ± 7.3. None of the divers complained of pulmonary symptoms. Pulmonary auscultation and chest radiography were normal in all cases. In divers with 20 years or more experience, the FEV1/FVC ratio and FEF25–75(%) was significantly lower (p < 0.001, p < 0.05, respectively). In addition, there was a statistically significant negative correlation between FEV1/FVC ratio and FEF25–75(%) and diving experience (year) (p < 0.05, r = –0.444, p < 0.05, r = –0.300, respectively). As the diving experience increase per 1 year, the FEF25–75(%) value decreases by 1.04% according to linear regression analyses. However, smoking and occupational groups did not show any significant influence on pulmonary function test parameters.
Conclusions: Occupational diving seems to create clinically asymptomatic pulmonary function test changes related to small airway obstruction after long years of exposure.

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