At sea and under water man´s body and mind are stressed by a number of physiologic and psychological challenges which arise from the maritime environment.
Aboard a ship, sea sickness may become a relevant health challenge, beside other climatic and travel medical factors.
Inside open water and particular during professional or recreational diving the individuum is additionally burdened by significant changes in the ambient physical conditions, which heavily influence the human physiology.
Changes in the partial pressures of breathing gases during diving may gain significant influence on physiological processes to the point of toxic effects of under normal pressure harmless gases. A particular focus is set here on hyperoxia, hypercapnia and the narcotic effects of nitrogen.
Furthermore, darkness, coldness and extreme ambient conditions can have a severe impact on the diver´s mind, thus possibly leading to erroneous reactions in an emergency situation.
Maritime Medicine addresses both, the physiologic and psychological questions, which arise from the mentioned above issues.
Priv.-Doz. Dr. Andreas Koch is head of the Maritime Medicine section in the Institute of Experimental Medicine at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel and head of department in the German Naval Medical Institute.