Decompression Sickness

Definition - What does Decompression Sickness mean?

Decompression Sickness is a sickness that arises from the dissolved gases which come out of solution into bubbles in the body on the depressurization. These are the problems that commonly arise from underwater diving decompression but can be experienced in other depressurization events like flying in a pressurized aircraft, working in caisson and extravehicular activity from the spacecraft. These bubbles can form in or can migrate to any part of the body and produce various symptoms. The effects of Decompression Sickness are rashes, joint pains, paralysis and death.

Petropedia explains Decompression Sickness

Decompression Sickness is generally observed in elbows, ankles, shoulders and knees. The most common effect of this sickness is joint pains which accounts for around 60 to 70% in these cases, with shoulders being the most common site. Visual disturbances and headaches are the neurological symptoms that are present in 10 to 15% of these cases. Due to the introduction of pre-breathing protocols, the pulmonary Decompression Sickness is very rare in aviators and divers. Exposure to this sickness can be managed with the help of proper decompression procedures. The potential severity of the sickness has driven a lot of research so that it can be prevented. The divers use dive computers or dive tables to limit the exposure of divers and also control their ascent speed. If it is contacted, it can be treated by hyperbaric oxygen therapy in a recompression chamber. There are very higher chances of successful recovery if Decompression Sickness is treated during the early stages.

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