Skip to Content

Diving Accidents: The Dangers of Ascending Too Fast

Type the word diving on google, and you will millions of articles on this subject. Diving has become so popular within the last decades, and there are more than a million divers spread worldwide.

We have divers who dive for hunting; others do so for research, and some for the exploitation of resources at the sea bed. No matter the reason for diving and the form of diving, there will always be accidents. The accidents can have various causes, one of which is ascending too fast.

Whatsoever reason you dive for, have in mind that there can be an accident, and the effect will be the same for every diver. If you have been wondering what will happen if you ascend too fast, you are in the right place. Read on to end your long period of search.

It doesn’t matter if you are a professional diver or a novice; the danger of ascending too fast is the same for all. Ascending too fast can cause physiological damage to your internal organs. Ascending is more dangerous than descending.

What can cause a fast ascent?

Fast ascent, which can sometimes be uncontrolled, can stem from many causes. For example, when a diver runs out of air, failure to calculate or estimate his ascent rate, poor buoyancy control, weight loss during diving, equipment failure like a dry suit inflator.

This can result in panic and cause a diver to ascend too fast. In cases where the cause is an out-of-air situation or serious equipment failure, it can prompt divers to perform emergency ascents if there is no one to offer help.

What will happen if a diver ascends too fast while diving?

When divers ascend too fast, they increase their risk of decompression illness and pressure-related injuries such as pulmonary barotrauma, caused by holding your breath during an ascent.

Yet divers can’t still help ascending too fast. But doing this can lead to more trouble. In such a case, a slower ascent is the advice you should keep. AscendingFast can cause you the following problems. 

Auditory problems

Trapped gas in the middle of the ear can lead to many problems. In an attempt to clear the ears, one ear might clear before the other, which will cause disorientation because of stimulation leading to a problem called alternobaric vertigo.

Also, if the external ear canals are unequally blocked before you dive, cold water can enter one of the canals, leading to caloric vertigo.

Sinus problems

When the gas expands in the sinus, it can be very painful and eventually burst. A cerebral infection can occur, though rarely due to rupture of the ethmoid sinus.

Arterial gas embolism

Emboli is a situation that occurs the lungs expand upon ascend. The expansion continues as you continue to ascend. The emboli can travel through the bloodstream to the brain from the lungs.

This will lead to weakness, paralysis or loss of consciousness, tingling of the skin, numbness. You will observe neurological symptoms and signs which will require immediate recompression.

Decompression sickness

Depression sickness is something well known and feared by divers. Upon ascent, nitrogen, and helium stored in the body fluids like blood come out of solution and form bubbles in circulation and tissues.

The bubbles formed increase in size and number as a diver ascents and will eventually block blood vessels and rupture or distort cells. This happens because the ascent was too fast.

But with you ascent sufficiently slowly, the gas bubbles will diffuse back into the bloodstream, where they are removed from the lungs without forming any noticeable number of bubbles.

The symptoms may include:

  • Pain (usually the elbows and shoulders) may appear a few minutes after diving or several hours later.
  • Sensory disturbance with numbness and paraesthesia (neurological).
  • If it gets serious, the pain will begin in the girdle, and there will be a loss of movement and sensation in the victim’s lower limb. In some cases, there might be cerebral involvement and loss of consciousness.

If you notice these symptoms in a diver, the following can help as an emergency.

  • The first thing is to rescue the person, get him dried and warm and help him get some warmth.
  • The next is to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the victim. That is if necessary.
  • Finally, you should solicit expert service.

What  Should you do if you Ascend too Fast?

Most recreational dive computers calculate a safe ascent rate for you and notify you if you go faster than that. If you receive this warning, reduce your speed to a more manageable level and continue to ascend in a calm and controlled manner.

If you reach the surface before reaching your safety stop, either due to improper weighting or another reason, immediately establish positive buoyancy and signal your buddy or a dive supervisor. 

Discuss your alternatives with your companion based on your dive profile, conditions, and how you’re feeling. If you’re still feeling fine after a minute or two, consider descending to complete your safety stop.

This recommendation is on the assumption that you were doing a recreational no-decompression dive, that you have enough air left, that you aren’t overly nervous, and that you don’t have any symptoms.

If you have any symptoms following a too quick ascent, you should seek medical attention and, if required, first-aid treatment.

Some safety measures consider before and during diving

  • All divers are expected to be in peak physical and mental health.
  • It is necessary that for diving to occur at any level, the diver always should have a pal around. This means that as a diver, you should not be alone at any time. This pair should be able to communicate using sign language since verbal communication is not possible effectively. There are well-established signs for communication. For example, thumbs up or down mean intended ascent or descent, respectively. 
  •  Proper training is necessary before you embark on a dive. Some lessons will include the classroom while some will be done in a swimming pool.


Whether you choose to take diving as a hobby (for leisure) or for professional purposes, many risks are still involved. This applies to deep shallow and deep water diving. Therefore before you engage in diving, be sure you know what you are engaging in and take necessary precautions.