Decompression sickness (DCS), also known as divers’ disease, the bends or caisson disease, occurs when there is an inadequate decompression following exposure to increased pressure. DCS can be mild, but in some cases, serious injury can occur and immediate action must be taken.
While diving, the body tissues absorb nitrogen from breathing gas relative to surrounding pressure. If the diver remains at pressure, there is no issue. If the diver begins to surface too quickly, the nitrogen will form bubbles in the tissues and bloodstream. Even while limits and accepted guidelines are being followed, divers can be at risk.
Mild joint pain can occur, but in serious cases numbness, paralysis, higher cerebral function reactions and lung and circulatory shock can occur. Symptoms and signs of DCS include unusual fatigue, joint pain, skin itch, dizziness, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, amnesia, confusion and unconsciousness.
When using a hyperbaric chamber to treat DCS, the atmospheric pressure can be raised or lowered gradually. This allows divers to readjust to normal atmospheric pressure. HBOT can help prevent permanent damage caused by DCS.
Photography credit: Sea N’ Sand Scuba
Orlando Hyperbarics provides Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in a convenient and comfortable non-hospital facility. The center, located at 6200 Lee Vista Boulevard, Suite 250, Orlando, Florida 32822, is served by SR 436 and SR 528, easily accessed from Orlando International Airport, and located near Orlando’s Medical City in Lake Nona.