Causes of the Bends
The direct cause of DCI, or ‘the Bends’, is due to bubble formation and growth within body organs and tissues. Whilst mainly seen in divers it can also occur high altitude pilots or astronauts as well as persons working in compressed air environments. The exact mechanisms are not fully understood but rapid ascents from depth or sudden decompression as well as incorrect decompression procedures do seem to be a cause. Effects differ from person to person but varying predisposing factors are thought to heavily contribute to DCI even with correct procedures. Breath holding and air trapping in the lungs during ascent or decompression may also lead to DCI as well as some heart defects.
Signs & Symptoms
Altered consciousness, balance and coordination problems, memory problems, headache, nausea and vomiting, vertigo, numbness and tingling, joint pain, unusual fatigue, paralysis, skin rashes, difficulty walking/standing, muscular weakness, difficulty urinating, difficulty breathing.
Always remember, you’re better safe than sorry – As the symptoms for DCI are so diverse, any symptom that cannot be readily explained after diving or other hyperbaric exposure should be assumed to be DCI until proven otherwise.
Call Divers Emergency Service on 07 999 292 999 if you suspect you or anyone diving with you has DCI or the Bends.