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Decompression Syndromes: The Bends (cont.)

The Bends Treatment

The bends are treated in a hyperbaric recompression chamber.

The Bends Self-Care at Home

Rescue the diver from the water and provide emergency care within the limits of your training.

  • Dry and rewarm the diver with blankets if hypothermia (drop in body temperature) develops.
  • If you have access to oxygen, a mask should be applied to deliver high flow oxygen to the individual with symptoms.
  • You can visit the Divers Alert Network Web site or call them in the United States at (919) 684-9111 to determine where the nearest hyperbaric chamber is located.
  • Transport the person in a supine position (horizontal, lying on their back) to an emergency care facility. If a hyperbaric chamber is available, you may coordinate to transport directly to that facility for definitive care.
  • If air transport is used, attempt to find an air frame that can transport the diver below 1,000 feet or is able to be pressurized to sea level pressure. Use high-flow oxygen if it is available during transport.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2015
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Decompression Syndromes: The Bends - Experience

Please describe your experience with decompression sickness.

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Decompression Sickness »

Although decompression sickness (DCS), a complex resulting from changed barometric pressure, includes high-altitude–related and aerospace-related events, this article focuses on decompression associated with the sudden decrease in pressures during underwater ascent, usually occurring during free or assisted dives.

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