How does decompression sickness happen?
Decompression sickness, also called generalized barotrauma or the bends, refers to injuries caused by a rapid decrease in the pressure that surrounds you, of either air or water. It occurs most commonly in scuba or deep-sea divers, although it also can occur during high-altitude or unpressurized air travel.
How is decompression sickness treated?
The treatment of DCS is with 100% oxygen, followed by recompression in a hyperbaric chamber.  In most cases, this will prevent long-term effects. However, permanent injury from DCS is possible. To prevent the excess formation of bubbles leading to decompression sickness, divers limit their ascent rate.
How decompression sickness can be prevented?
To prevent decompression sickness, most divers make a safety stop for a few minutes before ascending to the surface. This is usually done around 15 feet (4.5 meters) below the surface. If you’re diving very deep, you may want to ascend and stop a few times to ensure your body has time to adjust gradually.
Can you recover from decompression sickness?
Conclusions. Late recompression for DCS, 48 hours or more after surfacing, has clinical value and when applied can achieve complete recovery in 76% of the divers. It seems that the preferred hyperbaric treatment protocol should be based on US Navy Table 6.
Will the bends go away on its own?
In some cases, symptoms may remain mild or even go away by themselves. Often, however, they strengthen in severity until you must seek medical attention, and they may have longer-term repercussions.
What happens if decompression sickness goes untreated?
Untreated bends cause damage!
Failure to treat promptly and appropriately may lead to permanent impairment.
How long does decompression sickness last?
After several days of diving, a period of 12 to 24 hours (for example, 15 hours) at the surface is commonly recommended before flying or going to a higher altitude. People who have completely recovered from mild decompression sickness should refrain from diving for at least 2 weeks.
What does the bends feel like?
The most common signs and symptoms of the bends include joint pains, fatigue, low back pain, paralysis or numbness of the legs, and weakness or numbness in the arms. Other associated signs and symptoms can include dizziness, confusion, vomiting, ringing in the ears, head or neck pain, and loss of consciousness.
Can the bends be cured?
If DCS is suspected, it is treated by hyperbaric oxygen therapy in a recompression chamber. Diagnosis is confirmed by a positive response to the treatment. If treated early, there is a significantly higher chance of successful recovery.
Why is it called the bends in diving?
Decompression sickness (DCS), known as ‘the bends’ because of the associated joint pain, is a potentially deadly condition caused by bubbles of nitrogen gas forming in the blood and tissues. It’s most common among divers using scuba tanks, but can affect free-divers and people at high altitude.
What happens if you dont decompress?
If the pressure reduction is sufficient, excess gas may form bubbles, which may lead to decompression sickness, a possibly debilitating or life-threatening condition. It is essential that divers manage their decompression to avoid excessive bubble formation and decompression sickness.
How long does it take for the bends to set in?
Symptoms of the Bends. The nervous and musculoskeletal system are most often affected. If divers are going to develop symptoms, they will show within 48 hours in all cases. Most have symptoms within 6 hours, while some develop them within the first hour of surfacing from a dive.
What depth can you get decompression sickness?
Symptoms of decompression illness can occur within minutes and up to 24 hours or more after exposure to changes in ambient pressure associated with dives of 20 feet in depth or more. The severity of symptoms depends on the rate and the magnitude of the change of ambient pressure and can vary among individuals.