‘Should something go wrong, he cannot simply swim to the surface. A diver who has spent time in deep water must ascend gradually, stopping at predetermined intervals to allow his body to readjust to decreasing pressures. He must do so even if he believes himself to be suffocating or chocking or dying. Panicked divers who bolt for “sunshine and seagulls” risk a case of decompression sickness, or the “bends”. Severe bends can permanently handicap, paralyze or kill a person.’ – (Shadow Divers , 2004)
Most DCI comes on and shows symptoms in the first few hours after the end of a dive. It can sometimes start even before leaving the water. Most cases have developed symptoms within 24 hours of the dive. Yet it may take a diver 6-8 days or more to recognise the symptoms and seek medical advice.
If a diver feels unwell or has any symptoms of DCI after a dive it is essential for divers to remember that all signs and symptoms are pressure related until proven otherwise, usually by a diagnostic or therapeutic recompression, therefore most doctors will ask patients about pressure exposure as an aid to diagnosis.
DCI is best known as a Diving Disorder that affects divers who have breathed gas at a higher pressure than the surface pressure. The risks of DCI increases when diving for extended periods or at greater depths, without ascending gradually and making decompression stops needed to slowly reduce the pressure of the inert gasses dissolved in the body. The specific risk factors are not much understood and some divers may be more susceptible than others under identical conditions.
To prevent the excess formation of bubbles that can lead to decompression sickness, divers limit their ascent to 10m (33ft) per minute, and carry out a decompression stop as necessary for their particular dive.
Are you going diving this summer? Remember any symptoms that you have after the dive that WERE NOT there before entering the water should be checked out. Use the Midlands Diving Chamber symptoms guide for reference…