Decompression Syndrome First Aid

Bends/decompression syndrome or more commonly known as diver’s disease is a condition caused by gases emerging out of solution into bubbles within the body during depressurization. In simpler terms, the diver’s disease is a condition arising from underwater diving. However, diver’s disease may also be experienced in other events like flying through an unpressurised aircraft, and activities from spacecraft.

In cases of diving, the deepness of the dive, the time the diver is under duress, and the speed of the diver’s ascent are directly related to the bends syndrome. Most people, especially those who are well experienced in diving, use a dive table in order to lessen the risk of getting decompression sickness. They are also well trained when it comes to giving bends/decompression syndrome first aid.

First Aid For Bends/Decompression Syndrome

Bends/decompression sickness symptoms

When a person is suffering from bends/decompression syndrome, you can notice symptoms like musculoskeletal pains (usually joint in elbows and shoulders), extreme fatigue, low back pain, abdominal pain, chest pain, heaviness and numbness of the legs, skin rashes (usually marbled or red), intense itching, and incontinence. In some cases, patients also experience chokes (which may lead to shock rapidly), cough, cyanosis, and difficulty in breathing.


In some cases, a person suffering from diver’s sickness also experiences symptoms like ringing in the ears, deafness, and/or vomiting.

What to do

Before performing bends/decompression syndrome first aid, be sure that you are prepared. This way, you will be able to perform first aid efficiently. If possible, call for emergency medical assistance right away. If you have someone with you, have him/her call for medical assistance for you and stay with the patient until you are assisted.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

If a child is suffering from diver’s disease, administer CPR for children. On the other hand, if the patient is an adult, administer a CPR for adults. If available, use supplemental oxygen while performing rescue breathing. Remember to keep the patient on oxygen until health care providers arrive.

Do not delay

Always bear in mind that time is an important factor in saving someone else’s life. For this reason, once symptoms of diver’s disease start to show, call for emergency medical assistance right away. Never delay and try to wait for all symptoms to show before applying a bends/decompression syndrome first aid. In most cases, symptoms of decompression sickness appear within 6 hours but may appear even later. Thus, waiting for all symptoms to show before acting may add up to the severity of the patient’s condition.

Moreover, the patient must avoid flying and travelling to a higher altitude. He/she is also prohibited to dive for twelve (12) to twenty-four (24) hours while and after suffering from decompression sickness.

Preventing bends sickness

If not treated immediately, symptoms of bends sickness can cause severe and long term disability to patients. For this reason, before diving, see to it that you are mentally and physically prepared. Be sure that you are ready for such physical activity and that you have consulted your doctor before doing so.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here