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What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy causes abnormal electrical activity in the brain and causes transient signs or symptoms  leading to a disturbance of consciousness, behaviour, emotion, movement or sensation. People with epilepsy can be affected in different ways ranging from a trance-like state to loss of consciousness and convulsions. Epileptic seizures may occur without any warning. Some people may not have an episode of epilepsy for several years but still remain at higher risk of having a seizure at some time. Anti-epileptic drugs are used to control seizures but cannot cure epilepsy.

Can I dive if I have epilepsy?

Any medical condition which causes  alteration in consciousness or sudden onset of neurological symptoms without  warning is not compatible with diving. The risk of drowning is too high. A problem under water may result in a rapid ascent and decompression illness, placing buddies at risk as well as the diver. There are also concerns regarding the risk of interaction of the underwater environment with anti-epilepsy medication.

Can I dive if I have had epilepsy previously?

If you have had epilepsy but have been off medication and have not had a seizure in five years you may be fit to dive. If your seizures were nocturnal seizures only, then you may dive if you have been off medication and seizure free for three years. If you had any form of epilepsy previously you will need to seek medical advice from a diving doctor.

Febrile convulsions are not classed as epilepsy and should not cause problems diving.

To speak to a doctor please use our telephone consultation service.