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


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


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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