What happens when divers get the bends?

Symptoms can include fatigue and pain in muscles and joints. In the more severe type, symptoms may be similar to those of stroke or can include numbness, tingling, arm or leg weakness, unsteadiness, vertigo (spinning), difficulty breathing, and chest pain.

Do people survive the bends?

Prognosis or outlook of people who develop the bends varies with the following factors: Prognosis is good with hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Delay to hyperbaric oxygen treatment: Although reports show that divers can do well after days of symptoms, delay in definitive treatment may cause damage that is irreversible.

What happens when divers get the bends? – Related Questions

How long does it take for the bends to kick in?

Symptoms of DCS can occur immediately after surfacing or up to 24 hours later. On average a diver with DCS will experience symptoms between 15 minutes and 12 hours following a dive.

Can the bends be cured?

1) Professional treatment for the Bends

Hyperbaric treatment can take as long as 12 hours or more depending on the severity of symptoms. The chamber is a pressurized environment which reduces the size of the bubbles and helps them to be reabsorbed. It also provides large amounts of oxygen to the damaged tissues.

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.

Does the bends cause permanent damage?

With severe DCS, you may have a permanent residual effect such as bladder dysfunction, sexual dysfunction or muscular weakness, to name a few. In some cases of neurological DCS, there may be permanent damage to the spinal cord, which may or may not cause symptoms.

Can you dive again after the bends?

The U.S. Navy policy is for a return to diving after 30 days for severe decompression sickness or air embolism (AGE) that completely resolves with treatment. The time period is shorter for pain only DCS.

How do I avoid getting the bends?

When possible, keep exertion to a minimum during the deepest part of a dive. After diving, avoid exercise as long as possible. If exertion is unavoidable, dive conservatively to minimize risk.

What percentage of divers get the bends?

Skin manifestations are present in about 10% to 15% of cases. Pulmonary DCS (“the chokes”) is very rare in divers and has been observed much less frequently in aviators since the introduction of oxygen pre-breathing protocols.


Time to onset Percentage of cases
within 24 hours 98%
within 48 hours 100%

At what depth do you get the bends?

One diver got the bends – a painful condition caused by gas bubbles forming in the bloodstream – from diving in water less than four metres deep. Dr Griffiths said that a study of 350 cases showed at least 35 had dived in less than 10 metres of water.

Can you get the bends in 20 feet of water?

It’s exceptionally rare for the bends to occur in water shallower than 30 feet (9.1 m), so don’t panic if you haven’t been taking decompression breaks on the shallow dives you’ve completed in the past. If you’ve never had symptoms before, you have nothing to worry about.

How serious are the bends?

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.

Do fighter pilots breathe pure oxygen?

Today’s fighter pilots therefore operate in cabins pressurized according to a pressurization schedule,15 they breathe up to 100% oxygen,15 and they wear and use pressure breathing equipment.

How do pilots not throw up?

Avoid heavy meals before flight. Remain hydrated; drink water. No aggressive head motion during flight; use slow, purposeful movements. When becoming queasy and the flight environment permits, try focusing on the horizon outside the airplane.