Why are the bends so dangerous?
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.
How does the bends cause death?
If you’ve scuba dived before, then you’ve definitely heard about decompression sickness or “the bends.” When divers ascend too quickly from deep waters, dissolved nitrogen in the blood forms bubbles which can cause excruciating pain in the muscles, paralysis, and in some cases even death.
Why do the bends cause paralysis?
In the arterial system, bubbles (arterial gas embolism) are far more dangerous because they block circulation and cause infarction (tissue death, due to local loss of blood flow). In the brain, infarction results in stroke, and in the spinal cord it may result in paralysis.
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.
Why can’t divers come up fast?
Decompression sickness: Often called “the bends,” decompression sickness happens when a scuba diver ascends too quickly. Divers breathe compressed air that contains nitrogen. … But if a diver rises too quickly, the nitrogen forms bubbles in the body. This can cause tissue and nerve damage.
Can you get a mild case of the bends?
DCS (also called the bends or caisson disease) results from inadequate decompression following exposure to increased pressure. In some cases, it is mild and not an immediate threat. In other cases, a serious injury occurs.
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.
How do you prevent bends?
Dehydration seems to be a major factor in DCS. Take a day off during a week of diving. By taking a day off midweek, you decrease your nitrogen loading and give your body an opportunity to recover. Increase surface intervals, and decrease no-decompression limits.