Barotrauma/Decompression Sickness (cont.)
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Barotrauma/Decompression Sickness Treatment
The most serious diving complications - air embolism and decompression sickness - will require recompression therapy in a hyperbaric chamber. These hyperbaric chambers may be freestanding or associated with a local hospital. The chamber itself is typically made of thick metal plates with windows for observation. On the outside there are many pipes and valves. The chamber is usually large enough to accommodate more than one person. Medical personnel may come into the chamber with the patient or stay outside, watch through the window, and communicate by intercom, depending on the severity of the illness. While inside the chamber, one may experience loud noises or cold as the pressures change. Similar to diving, one will need to do Valsalva maneuvers to clear the ears while being pressurized. The patient will be closely monitored and be given specific instructions while they are in the chamber.
Other injuries can be managed at the hospital or doctor's office. All conditions will require avoidance of diving until improved.
Pulmonary barotrauma may result in a collapsed lung (pneumothorax). If this occurs, the doctor must first determine how much of the lung has collapsed. If the collapse is relatively small the patient can be treated with supplemental oxygen and observation. Larger ones require that air be withdrawn from the body.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/19/2014
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