Emergency Treatment For Victims of Decompression Sickness

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The sport of swimming always involves diving. It is hard to imagine swimmers plunging into the water without the act of diving. It is this very act that makes swimming a dangerous sport because of the possibility of a swimmer banging his or her head against, say, the swimming pool’s floor or a rock, the latter in case of deep-sea diving. In such an accident, the victim could sustain an injury to his or her spinal column which, in serious cases, could result to lifelong paralysis.

Amateur divers are able to go to depths of over a hundred feet (30 meters) with the aid of diving equipment. Sometimes, this equipment – which supplies air or oxygen to the divers – malfunctions, resulting to drowning which actually is the main cause of death in swimming- or diving-related mishaps. Drowning is also possible when a diver takes unwarranted risks, as in straying too far-off or going deeper than is necessary, and then gets caught in rocks or becomes ensnared in weeds.

In deep-sea diving, there is another danger that divers face – decompression sickness. Also sometimes called the “bends” or caisson disease, decompression sickness takes place when a diver stays too long underwater at depths more than 30 feet (10 meters) and then rises to the surface without allowing enough time for the inert gases, particularly nitrogen, dissolved in his or her body fluids and tissues to come to a new balance. This causes bubbles of gas to develop in the diver’s tissues.

Some of the known symptoms of decompression sickness include dizziness, blurred vision, difficulty in breathing, chest and joint pains, and paralysis of certain muscles. Any or all of these symptoms may occur soon after the diver has emerged from the water. A diver who is obviously suffering from decompression sickness definitely has to be attended to at once.

Emergency treatment for a victim of decompression sickness involves the use of pressure equipment. In this treatment method, the victim is placed in a special tank. Here, the air pressure is increased, simulating the underwater pressure. Over a period of a few hours, the pressure is decreased; this allows the patient’s body to adjust gradually.

In places where diving is common and, therefore, the occurrence of decompression sickness is always possible, lifeguards and other authorities are well aware of the location of this treatment equipment. It should be immediately available in the event such an incident does occur.


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