decompression sickness


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decompression sickness,

physiological disorder caused by a rapid decrease in atmospheric pressure, resulting in the release of nitrogen bubbles into the body tissues. It is also known as caisson disease, altitude sickness, and the bends. It is an occupational hazard of persons who work under greatly increased atmospheric pressure below the surface of the earth (e.g., divers and laborers who work under compressed air) when their return to normal atmospheric pressure is made too quickly. When the body is subjected to high atmospheric pressure the respiratory gases are compressed and larger amounts are dissolved in the body tissues. During ascent from depths greater than 30 ft (9.1 m), these gases escape as the external pressure decreases. Airplane pilots who go rapidly from normal atmospheric pressure to high altitudes (low atmospheric pressure) in unpressurized aircraft or in aircraft with faulty pressurizing apparatus also encounter the disorder. The decrease in air pressure releases body nitrogen in the form of gas bubbles that block the small veins and arteries and collect in the tissues, cutting off the oxygen supply and causing nausea, vomiting, dizziness, pain in the joints and abdomen, paralysis, and other neurological symptoms. In severe cases there may be shock, total collapse, and, if treatment is not prompt, death. Persons who work under increased atmospheric pressure must make the ascent to normal atmospheric pressure gradually, often through pressurized chambers, a procedure that allows the nitrogen to be released slowly from the blood and expired from the lungs. Inhalation of pure oxygen aids in clearing nitrogen from the body. Those who suffer symptoms of decompression sickness at high altitudes (commonly called aeroembolism) experience relief on returning to an atmospheric pressure normal to them; this and oxygen inhalation will usually effect recovery.

decompression sickness

A sickness caused by the evolution of nitrogen bubbles in the body as a result of the effects of reduced atmospheric pressure. Normal symptoms of decompression sickness are the bends, chokes, creeps, unconsciousness, and neurological symptoms. It can be potentially fatal if the original higher pressure is not restored. Fighter crews use pressure suits and pressure breathing to avoid the effects of decompression sickness. Also called aeroembolism, the bends, and caisson disease.

decompression sickness

, illness
a disorder characterized by severe pain in muscles and joints, cramp, and difficulty in breathing, caused by a sudden and sustained decrease in air pressure, resulting in the deposition of nitrogen bubbles in the tissues
References in periodicals archive ?
I got a research grant from the Fisheries Department, modified the dive profiles [risk of injury estimates] and changed the incidence of decompression sickness from over 40 percent to less than 0.
Although we know of no cases of decompression sickness in space, the number of extravehicular activities (EVAs), even with the Russian program, has been fairly small," Moon points out.
Decompression sickness can result in serious, permanent injuries, including paralysis and death.
Diving is physically exhausting, and there's an increased risk of experiencing decompression sickness like that of a scuba diver," said Capt.
Moreover, dehydration can cause a decrease in thermal balance and an increase in decompression sickness.
We have returned to our roots as a drug development company creating our perfluorocarbon-based drug, Oxycyte([R]), for traumatic brain injury, stroke and decompression sickness.
He had been diving to depths of 61 metres for around 38 minutes when he fell ill with suspected decompression sickness.
The diver is believed to have experienced the potentially fatal decompression sickness, known as the bends, caused by the formation of bubbles of gas that occur with changes in pressure during scuba diving.
And coastguards received reports of a diver with possible decompression sickness just off the island, but it was found not to be the case.
The spacesuit pressure is lower than in the ISS and the drop could give them decompression sickness.
The Deepest Man on Earth' is headed to Dubai to talk about his plunge to set the world record for freediving, his near death experience on his last world record attempt and his full recovery from decompression sickness, also known as 'the bends'.
Separately, a man was in hospital last night after suffering decompression sickness after a diving expedition off Wexford yesterday morning.