What Are The Bends In Scuba Diving?

Scuba Diving
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What are the bends in scuba diving?

One of the few risks to be aware of when scuba diving is the bends, also known as decompression sickness. Every diver out there dreads The Bends, and we all take a number of precautions to help ward it off every single time we dive, but what exactly is it, and how do we avoid it?

What Are The Bends In Scuba Diving?

Decompression sickness, also known as “the bends,” is well-known both within the diving community and in general culture, but most people are unaware of what it actually means. Also known as Caisson disease, it is a condition that does not occur in freediving, but can happen when a diver is using a breathing regulator. The symptoms can affect virtually any part of the body, including the joints, lungs, heart, skin, and brain.

The bends are caused by dissolved gases (primarily nitrogen) that bubble up out of solution as a result of decompression in scuba divers, high altitude events, or aerospace phenomena.  Joints, lungs, hearts, skin, and the brain are just a few of the body parts that they can harm.

F.C. classified the symptoms of the bends, also known as decompression sickness. As of 1960, Golding was:

  •  “Type I (‘simple’)” for symptoms involving only the skin, musculoskeletal system, or lymphatic system”
  • Type II (‘serious’)” for symptoms where other organs (such as the central nervous system) are involved.”

While the bends are becoming much less common than they once were, they can still be very serious if contracted. Exposure to the bends can be managed through proper decompression prevention.

Divers control their ascent speed and prevent decompression sickness by using computers and tablets.)

What Causes The Bends?

The pressure is higher underwater than it is at sea level when you are diving.

The gases in your air tank could dissolve into the tissues of your body as you dive due to the pressure. “On-gassing” is another name for this.”

The pressure will then decrease as you surface, and the gases should gradually escape the tissue. This is frequently referred to as “off-gassing.””

The gas won’t safely exit your body’s tissues, though, if the ascent is too rapid. Instead, it will form and hold onto tiny bubbles of it. The bends are a result of this.

Think of it as a bottle of soda. Everything is fine inside the pressurized, closed bottle. When the top is removed and the pressure is released, the carbon dioxide bubbles in the beverage only begin to fizz out in full.

Nitrogen is the problematic gas, though any type of gas in a diver’s tank can be impacted in this way. As a result, nitrogen is useless to your body. All it does is accumulate in the tissues, obstruct healthy blood flow, and strain or harm the nerves.

The released gas can also result in an embolism, blood clotting, or the release of vasoactive compounds, which are substances your body naturally produces and which can lower or raise blood pressure or heart rate.

These factors raise the risk of DCS:

  • The depth of the dive
  • The duration of the dive
  • The rate of ascent

What Are The Bends’ Symptoms?

Depending on the person, the bends symptoms can range from minor to excruciating and necessitate varying degrees of treatment. When diving, if someone exhibits any of these signs, you should give them an oxygen mask as soon as you can and get help from a doctor.

Muscoskeletar -localized, intense discomfort as well as joint pain. A dull ache can occasionally be excruciating.

Skin– Face, neck, and upper body itching. Skin occasionally has a marbled or puffy appearance.

Fatigue – a profound sense of fatigue.

The Chokes -Shortness of breath, chest pain, a dry cough, and breathing difficulties.

The Staggers –  hearing and balance problems, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

Scuba Diving

How Do You Treat The Bends?

Decompression sickness treatment should be sought out right away if you or anyone diving with you exhibits any of the possible bends symptoms.

In order for the physician or staff at the emergency care facility you visit to be aware that DCS is a likely cause of your condition, it is crucial to inform them that you have been diving within the previous 48 hours.

Professional treatment for the Bends

The tool required to treat DCS is a hyperbaric recompression chamber:

  • Depending on how severe the symptoms are, hyperbaric treatment can last up to 12 hours or longer.
  • The pressurized environment of the chamber causes the bubbles to condense and aids in their absorption.
  • Additionally, it gives the tissues that have been damaged a lot of oxygen.

Before beginning therapy in the re-compression chamber, the patient will typically undergo testing and have IV and oxygen lines attached.

The next step is likely to be hospital admission for status monitoring.

Emergency care for DCS

Your first port of call whenever a case of the bends is reported should always be the local emergency services.

Make sure the professional you are speaking to comprehends:

  • Decompression sickness affects the diver.
  • They must be moved while lying flat on their backs.
  • If possible, the vehicle should travel below 1000 feet when being airlifted, or it should be pressurized to sea level.
  • They will be taken to a hospital that needs to have a hyperbaric chamber because it will almost certainly be necessary for their treatment there. On the Divers Alert Network website, you can conduct an online search to find the closest chamber to you.

There are a few things you can do to keep someone with the bends stable until assistance arrives if you are absolutely unable to get them to a hospital in time:

  • 1. Keep them warm with blankets if their body temperature drops.
  • 2. Don’t forget to put their oxygen mask on if you have one.

How Can The Bends Be Prevented?

Divers must control their ascent rate and follow a decompression schedule as needed to prevent decompression sickness by stopping the release of bubbles that can harm the body.

Divers must stay at each specific depth until enough gas has been eliminated from the body; each of these is referred to as a decompression stop; this is necessary for them to safely ascend from a deep scuba diving session.

Divers use dive computers, decompression tables, and decompression software to precisely measure decompression stops both before and during a diving session. These are frequently built using a mathematical model of the body’s inert gas absorption and release under varying pressures.

During the decompression phase of the dive, breathing mixtures with significantly less inert gas can help reduce the amount of time needed for decompression before ascending.

Other Things Keep The Bends Away

  • Always begin your ascent at least a few minutes before you reach the limits set by your dive computer. Never dive right up to them.
  • The more senior you get, the less effective your circulatory system is, which has an impact on nitrogen elimination.
  • You should be aware that because nitrogen is easily dissolved in fat tissue, chubby funbodies may absorb more nitrogen when diving if you’re a bit of a fatty (or big-boned like me).
  • While diving in cold water, your circulation may decrease as your extremities cool, which will affect nitrogen removal.’
  • Avoid diving while high or intoxicated! This is something we should never do because not only will it impair your judgment, but it will also dehydrate you and increase your heart rate, increasing the likelihood of those annoying bubbles forming.
  • After a dive, a hot shower or bath will cause your capillaries to enlarge, drawing blood away from other areas and causing your body to expel nitrogen more slowly.

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