What is decompression syndrome?

You may have heard this term in movies, what is decompression syndrome, in series or even in a diving course, if it is not very clear to you what decompression syndrome is in diving, or you have any doubts about how this syndrome can affect your health or your diving practices, here we tell you what decompression syndrome is in diving.

Decompression syndrome is the most common name, but it also has other names: decompression sickness, pressure sickness, divers’ disease, or it is also known in medical language as gas embolism. All these names refer to the same thing:

Decompression syndrome is an acute illness caused by a very sudden drop in atmospheric pressure; This decrease causes small bubbles of gas (usually nitrogen) to become trapped in the tissues or in the circulatory system.

When a diver breathes nitrogen at high pressure, this nitrogen is very compact and dissolves easily in the blood, however, when the diver rises very quickly to the surface, this nitrogen that is still inside his body returns to a gaseous state, forming bubbles capable of blocking blood flow.

What is decompression syndrome?

What is decompression syndrome?

Symptoms of decompression syndrome

Most of the patients reported with decompression syndrome complained of very intense pain, mainly in the muscles and joints of the arms and legs, as well as in the chest. Other common symptoms were fatigue, headaches, and shortness of breath.

In rarer cases, symptoms related to the central nervous system such as vertigo, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision and slurred speech have been reported.
Only 2% of patients have reported suffocation, caused by the obstruction of the pulmonary capillaries.

One of the greatest dangers of decompression sickness are infarcts; by generating plugs or air emboli in the arteries, the tissues are left without blood supply and end up dying.

What is decompression syndrome?

What is decompression syndrome?

How to prevent decompression syndrome in diving?

Decompression syndrome is a very serious disease that should not be taken lightly, however, it is very easy to prevent it, here are some tips. First, some general recommendations to avoid any mishap in your dives and then we will show you what the ascent protocol is.

  • Avoid being under the influence of any substance
  • Do not dive if you are dehydrated or hungover
  • Take your courses in accredited schools
  • Always dive in pairs
  • Respect the times and speeds
  • Plan your dives carefully
  • Try to stay in good physical shape
  • Try to have rest days, at least every two or three consecutive days of immersion
  • Do not take flights immediately after diving (at least 24 hours of waiting)

To prevent decompression sickness, it is recommended to follow ascent and stop patterns, in this way, through breathing, the nitrogen that has remained lodged in our body during the descent is slowly expelled.

The safety stop consists of stopping every 4.5 meters and staying at that depth for 3 minutes.

From what depth should I do decompression

Safety stops are mandatory after 30 meters.

Going beyond 40 meters, which is known as technical diving, the immersion time and the gas mixture that will be used for the immersion must be taken into account.

Always remember to stick to the rules of scuba diving and the recommendations of your instructors. You can find recommendations and courses on the PADI page.

What is decompression syndrome?

What is decompression syndrome?

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