Sports to avoid
I play many sports, including softball, volleyball and badminton. For some time now, I have been dying to try scuba diving. Since I have a mild form of the disease, do you think it would be dangerous for me to practise this sport? What about skydiving?
To answer our sports buff, let me say that scuba diving is not advisable for a person with cystic fibrosis. The lungs of most adolescents and adults with cystic fibrosis are at least slightly affected, and there is therefore the possibility of emphysematous bullae, which may not be visible on a lung X-ray. These bullae are fragile areas of damaged lung where the walls of alveoli (air sacs) have formed large, hollow pockets. Pressure changes during diving might cause the bullae to burst, thereby causing a pneumothorax.
As for skydiving, atmospheric and oxygen pressures change only slightly at flight altitudes. Skydiving is therefore not discouraged in people whose lungs are only slightly affected, but their condition should be stable and they should ensure that there is no increase in infection. It is important to be re-examined by a physician at your cystic fibrosis clinic before attempting this kind of activity.