Can You Scuba Dive With Epilepsy?

Learning to scuba dive and exploring the wonders of the underwater world can be a life changing and therapeutic experience for people with all kinds of different medical conditions that may have limited them in daily life.

If you are somebody that suffers from a form of epilepsy or any other form of seizures, then you should read on to see if scuba diving is the right activity for you.

This article is not medical advice and is merely to help you dive safely, please contact your instructor and dive doctor for advice.

Unfortunately if you currently have epileptic seizures then you cannot be signed off by a physician to participate in recreational scuba diving.

Despite this there are some cases where you can be accepted onto a scuba diving program if your epilepsy or seizures are no longer occurring. Let’s dive into the facts to give you a clearer understanding.

doctor in white with blue glove holding up a piece of paper with epilepsy written on it

Before embarking on any scuba diving activity as a new diving student you will be asked to complete a Medical statement by your dive shop. This statement is designed to protect you from the risks that come with diving while having a medical condition.

As you will see on the medical form, some of the ‘yes’ answers will mean that you need to be signed off by a doctor before participating in recreational scuba diving.

The Underwater Hyperbaric Medical Society supply doctors that may not be familiar with scuba diving and its affects on certain medical conditions with a guidance document. This document breaks down how various conditions are affected by diving and helps them come to a final decision on your case.

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that can cause sudden loss of consciousness without warning. For this reason current epileptic seizures are in the severe risk category in the eyes of this sport diving medical committee and you cannot be signed off for scuba diving.

What Can Happen if I Scuba Dive With Epilepsy?

If for some reason you found yourself underwater breathing from a scuba cylinder with epilepsy then the consequences could be catastrophic for you and your dive buddy.

Here are some of the scenarios you are at risk of if you had a seizure underwater:


The most likely thing to occur with a epileptic seizure underwater is a complete loss of control of your buoyancy and mouthpiece causing your regulator to fall from your mouth and lead to drowning.

Rapid Ascent

Ascending too quickly due to lack of consciousness could cause severe life threatening lung over-expansion injuries or arterial gas embolism.


Although there is little medical literature on the way your epilepsy medication will react while scuba diving, there is a largely theoretical thought that the higher partial pressure of nitrogen may present unexpected side effects.

Danger to Others

Should you experience a loss of consciousness at depth you will put your dive buddies at a greater risk of injury as they attempt to rescue you.

I Had Epilepsy Previously, Can I Still Dive?

It is possible for people to have a seizure disorder in some form and then grow out of it as the get older. For these people that are now seizure free, there is hope.

I Am Seizure Free

As described by The Diving Diseases Research Centre (DDRC), if you have been off anti epileptic medication and been seizure free for 5 years then you may be eligible for a sign off to participate in recreational diving.

Nocturnal Epilepsy

If you have suffered with nocturnal seizures, then you may be able to scuba dive after 3 years without medication or further seizures.

Febrile Convulsions

Febrile convulsions are not classed as a form of epilepsy, however you should still see a doctor to check the specifics of your case.

If you fall into these categories then you are best advised to see a hyperbaric doctor for advice rather than a general practitioner as they will understand in greater detail how your specific case will be impacted by recreational scuba diving.

I Am Certified But Have Been Diagnosed With Epilepsy, Can I Dive?

images of brain scan

Epilepsy is a condition that can strike at any point in a persons life. It can be cause by:

  • phycological stress

  • Suffering a significant brain event such as a stroke

  • Head injury

  • Infections

Recreational divers are not required to get a medical check every time they go for a dive and you may already be a highly experienced underwater explorer. However the risks associated with people with epilepsy remain the same for you.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms then be sure to see a doctor before your next dive:

  • Unusual feeling of temporary confusion

  • Staring spells

  • Uncontrollable jerking movements in arms or legs

  • Phycological symptoms such as fear, anxiety and deja vu

  • Unusual loss of awareness

  • Loss of consciousness


Scuba diving with active epilepsy is not possible. You will not be signed off for recreational scuba diving and as we have just read, it is for good reason. The medical literature is clear and puts epileptic seizures in the severe risk category of medical conditions related to scuba diving. The risk of drowning from sudden loss of consciousness is just too high.

Remember that if you are seizure free and have been for a period of 5 years without medication then you should see a hyperbaric doctor to be assessed. They may or may not certify fitness to dive.

If you are already an experienced diver and you feel like you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article then you must seek medical advice before diving back into the water.

Scuba diving remains a popular sport due to its excellent safety record thanks to the research done by diving authorities.

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Written by Katy

Thank you for reading. I started to share my passion for diving. I am an environmental educator, scientist and now an MSDT diver.

This platform has been made to create, connect and share my knowledge in the world of diving.

AS SEEN in DiveIn, Columbia & Women In Ocean Science

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