Decompression Syndrome

What is decompression?

Decompression syndrome is a term used to describe poorly being a result of reduced pressure in the environment surrounding a body. A good example is what happens when a diver begins to ascend to the surface at the end of the dive. It can occur in two types, decompression discomfort and aero-embolism.

Decompression sickness occurs when the bubbles are concentrated in the tissue; doing a “localized” damage; while Aero-embolism is caused by the overexpansion of the lungs causing wounds and resulting in gas bubbles entering the bloodstream and blocking it.

Symptoms include shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, cardiac arrhythmia, among others. The gas expands during the ascent, so if a diver stops exhaling correctly, the air spaces in the lungs can over-expand and tear. The air can move through the bloodstream and block vital organs such as the heart, brain or kidneys.


Aero-embolism is an emergency situation, and the best way to stabilize a diver is by recompression in a hyperbaric chamber, administering oxygen. This occasionally occurs when the diver makes an emergency exit or remains exhaled during the ascent. This can even happen even when making a correct exit or ascent.

The most dramatic form in which aero-embolism occurs is when the diver emerges unconscious and remains this way or becomes unconscious until ten minutes after having emerged. In this case there is a major medical condition and it is important to evacuate and apply the relevant treatments.

When a diver ascends quickly and holds his breath; He is certainly at risk and the problem is even greater when he is a smoker, has asthma or pulmonary emphysema.

The best way to anticipate these problems and be comfortable during diving is; is maintaining the proper buoyancy, behaving correctly and following the guidelines of safe diving. To improve your skills you can take your Advanced Open Water Diver course, as you will have the opportunity to try some more enriching and fun diving activities.

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