Professional divers can be at risk for decompression sickness

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2022 | Commercial Seamen |

Most anyone who has gone scuba diving knows about decompression sickness. It can happen when a person ascends too quickly to the water’s surface. That’s because there’s a rapid pressure decrease that has a noticeable effect on the body. Namely, it causes gas bubbles to form in a person’s tissue and their blood.

It can also happen if someone descends too quickly from a high altitude. This can include anyone from hikers to pilots to astronauts.

Common symptoms

Decompression sickness (DCS) usually isn’t serious – as long as the person suffering from it gets medical treatment immediately. That’s why it’s crucial to recognize the symptoms in yourself and others. These include:

  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Headache
  • Muscle/joint pain
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain/coughing
  • Double vision and other vision problems
  • Stomach pain

The symptoms can show up immediately or take an hour or more.

Some people, including those who are obese or have a heart defect. are more likely to suffer DCS than others. Other things can make a person more prone to developing DCS — for example, if you’re dehydrated or tired or have recently been in an airplane.

That’s why vacationers often experience DCS if they land at their resort destination and head straight out for a scuba adventure. While DCS can be more likely to develop if you’re in particularly deep water, it can develop at any depth – particularly if the water is extremely cold.

DCS can cause long-term physical problems

Those who dive for a living should be fully trained in how to avoid DCS and how to help others who seem to be suffering from it. Getting the right treatment immediately can help prevent severe and long-term consequences like chronic muscle weakness, bone damage, bladder dysfunction and even spinal cord damage. In the worst-case scenarios, it can be fatal.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious or fatal consequences from DCS in a work-related diving incident, it’s crucial to make sure that you assert your rights under maritime law. The earlier you seek experienced legal guidance, the better your chances will be for getting justice and compensation.