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## Why Do I Feel Sick After Scuba Diving?

Scuba diving is an exhilarating activity that allows you to explore the underwater world. However, some divers experience unpleasant symptoms after diving, such as nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. This condition is known as decompression sickness (DCS), also known as “the bends.”

## Causes of Decompression Sickness

DCS occurs when nitrogen bubbles form in the body’s tissues during decompression. As a diver descends, the surrounding water pressure increases, causing nitrogen to dissolve into the bloodstream. During ascent, the water pressure decreases, and the nitrogen gas bubbles out of the blood and into the tissues.

If the nitrogen bubbles are too large or too numerous, they can block blood vessels and damage tissues. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including:

* Nausea
* Vomiting
* Dizziness
* Joint pain
* Numbness or tingling
* Blurred vision
* Confusion
* Seizures
* Paralysis
* Death

## Risk Factors for Decompression Sickness

The risk of DCS is increased by several factors, including:

* **Rapid ascent:** Ascending too quickly can cause nitrogen bubbles to form prematurely.
* **Deep dives:** Dives to depths greater than 60 feet (18 meters) increase the amount of nitrogen dissolved in the bloodstream.
* **Repetitive dives:** Multiple dives in a short period of time can increase the risk of DCS.
* **Dehydration:** Dehydration can thicken the blood and make it more difficult for nitrogen to dissolve.
* **Obesity:** Obese divers have more body fat, which can absorb more nitrogen.
* **Age:** Older divers are more susceptible to DCS.
* **Certain medical conditions:** People with heart or lung problems, diabetes, or a history of DCS are at higher risk.

## Symptoms of Decompression Sickness

DCS symptoms can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms, such as nausea and dizziness, typically resolve within a few hours. However, severe symptoms, such as paralysis and seizures, require immediate medical attention.

**If you experience any symptoms of DCS, seek medical attention immediately.**

## Treatment for Decompression Sickness

Treatment for DCS involves:

* **Recompression therapy:** This is the most effective treatment for DCS. It involves placing the diver in a chamber and gradually increasing the pressure. This forces the nitrogen bubbles to dissolve back into the blood and be exhaled.
* **Oxygen therapy:** Oxygen can help to reduce the size of nitrogen bubbles and relieve symptoms.
* **Pain medication:** Pain medication can be used to relieve pain and discomfort.
* **Surgery:** In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to remove nitrogen bubbles from the body.

## Prevention of Decompression Sickness

DCS can be prevented by following these guidelines:

* **Ascend slowly:** Ascend at a rate of no more than 30 feet (9 meters) per minute.
* **Make safety stops:** Stop at depths of 10 feet (3 meters) and 20 feet (6 meters) for 3-5 minutes each to allow nitrogen to dissolve.
* **Don’t dive too deep:** Limit dives to depths of 100 feet (30 meters) or less.
* **Stay hydrated:** Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after diving.
* **Avoid repetitive dives:** Wait at least 24 hours between dives.
* **Be aware of your risk factors:** If you have any of the risk factors for DCS, discuss them with your doctor before diving.

## Conclusion

DCS is a serious medical condition that can occur after scuba diving. By following the guidelines above, you can reduce your risk of DCS and enjoy a safe and enjoyable diving experience.

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