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## When a Scuba Diver Comes Up Too Fast: Decompression Sickness

**Introduction**

Scuba diving is an exciting and rewarding activity, but it also carries some inherent risks. One of the most serious risks is decompression sickness (DCS), which can occur when a diver ascends too quickly.

**What is Decompression Sickness?**

DCS is a condition that occurs when nitrogen bubbles form in the body’s tissues. Nitrogen is a gas that is dissolved in the blood and tissues at high pressure when a diver is underwater. When a diver ascends too quickly, the pressure decreases and the nitrogen bubbles can come out of solution and form in the body’s tissues.

**Symptoms of Decompression Sickness**

The symptoms of DCS can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Mild symptoms may include:

* Joint pain
* Muscle weakness
* Numbness or tingling
* Skin rashes

More severe symptoms may include:

* Paralysis
* Difficulty breathing
* Confusion
* Loss of consciousness

**Causes of Decompression Sickness**

DCS is caused by ascending too quickly from a dive. The faster a diver ascends, the greater the risk of DCS. Other factors that can increase the risk of DCS include:

* Diving at a depth greater than 30 meters (100 feet)
* Diving for a longer period of time
* Being overweight or obese
* Having a history of DCS

**Treatment for Decompression Sickness**

The treatment for DCS is to recompression therapy. This involves taking the diver back to a pressurized environment, such as a recompression chamber, and slowly reducing the pressure over a period of several hours. This allows the nitrogen bubbles to dissolve back into the blood and be expelled from the body.

**Preventing Decompression Sickness**

The best way to prevent DCS is to follow the dive tables or use a dive computer. These tools will help you to calculate a safe ascent rate based on your depth and dive time.

Other ways to prevent DCS include:

* Ascending slowly and making safety stops at regular intervals
* Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids
* Avoiding alcohol and caffeine before and after diving
* Getting enough rest before and after diving

**Conclusion**

DCS is a serious condition that can occur when a diver ascends too quickly. By following the dive tables, using a dive computer, and taking other precautions, you can help to reduce your risk of DCS.

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