DCS (Decompression Sickness) also known as the Bends

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DCS or Decompression sickness is where the dissolved gases in the bloodstream become bubbles as the diver ascends reducing pressure. It is very important to stick to decompression schedules at the correct depths and for the correct amount of time to avoid DCS. The list below covers some of the most common symptoms and the likely location of bubbles causing them. Treatment for DCS is normally recompression within a Hyperbaric Chamber.

Signs and symptoms for bubble location with DCS (decompression sickness aka The bends)

Lungs

  • Persistent dry cough
  • Burning chest pain under the sternum, aggravated by breathing
  • Shortness of breath

Joints
(ankles, shoulders, knees, hip, wrists, & elbows)

  • Localized deep pain can be from mild to excruciating. Sometimes just a dull ache, but rarely sharp pain.
  • Movement of the joint aggravates the pain.
  • Bending the joint may alleviate the pain.

Skin

  • Itching, commonly on the neck, arms, ears, face, and upper body
  • (Formication) Feeling as if tiny insects are crawling over the skin
  • Blotchy or marbled itchy skin often around the shoulders, upper chest and abdomen.
  • (Pitting Edema) Swelling of the skin, with skin depressions similar to scars

Brain

  • (Paristhesia) tingling or numbness, (Hyperesthesia) increased sensitivity, Altered sensation.
  • (Amnesia) memory loss and/or confusion
  • Visual abnormalities
  • Unusual mood or behaviour changes
  • Seizures, unconsciousness

Spinal Cord

  • Ascending weakness or paralysis in the legs
  • Encompassing abdominal or chest pain
  • Incontinence

Whole body

  • Headache
  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Generalised feeling of illness, poorly localised aches

Inner ear

  • Loss of balance
  • Dizziness, vertigo, nausea, vomiting
  • Loss of hearing
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