Decompression sickness, also known as the bends, is a condition caused by a change in pressure. When a person changes altitude rapidly, such as when they scuba dive and then ascend too quickly, the pressure on their body changes too fast. This can cause nitrogen bubbles to form in the blood and tissues. Symptoms of decompression sickness can range from mild to deadly. They include joint pain, dizziness, difficulty breathing, and seizures. Treatment for decompression sickness includes recompression therapy and oxygen therapy.
The signs and symptoms of decompression sickness
When a scuba diver descends to a depth of 30 feet, the pressure of the water around them doubles. To prevent decompression sickness (DCS), divers must ascend slowly, pausing at different depths to allow their body to adjust. Even with these precautions, some divers still experience DCS.
The signs and symptoms of DCS can vary depending on which part of the body is affected. common symptoms include joint pain, muscle cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting, and dizziness. In more severe cases, a diver may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or even paralysis.
If you experience any of these symptoms after diving, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Left untreated, DCS can lead to serious health complications.
How to prevent decompression sickness
If you are a scuba diver, there are things you can do to help prevent decompression sickness (DCS). These include not diving deep if you are not certified to do so, ascending slowly after a dive, and taking breaks between dives. If you start feeling symptoms of DCS (such as joint pain, headache, or nausea), stop diving and see a doctor right away.
Treatment for decompression sickness
The treatment for decompression sickness is usually with 100% oxygen delivered through a mask. Other treatments may include fluids and a diuretic to help the body get rid of the gas bubbles. Surgery may also be necessary to remove the gas bubbles.
The Final Words
Decompression sickness can cause a variety of unpleasant and dangerous symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms after diving, it is important to seek medical help immediately.