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Gastric Squeeze

Gastric Squeeze Overview

Gastric squeeze, or gas in the gut, often occurs while diving as air inside the body swells during descent and expands during ascent. Other causes of gastric squeeze may include drinking carbonated beverages before diving, eating beans before diving, chewing gum during diving, or repeatedly equalizing the ears with the head down.

Gastric Squeeze Symptoms

Symptoms of abdominal squeeze include the following:

  • Abdominal fullness, abdominal cramps, pain, belching, and flatulence occur.
  • Rarely, gastric squeeze may cause a diver to pass out or may result in gut rupture.

Gastric Squeeze Treatment

Treatment while diving consists of the following:

  • Vent the gas and stop the ascent.
  • Continue the ascent when gastric squeeze symptoms subside.

When to Seek Medical Care

Medical assistance for gastric squeeze is rarely required. However, see a health care provider if severe pain fails to subside after belching or flatulence occurs.

For More Information

Divers Alert Network, Diving Medicine, Gastrointestinal Issues - Consider Them Before Returning to Diving

Divers Alert Network, Diving Medicine, Frequently Asked Questions

familydoctor.org, Scuba Diving Safety

The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, Decompression Illness

Medically reviewed by Donald Lee, DO; Board Certified Family Practice


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/8/2014
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Dysbarism »

Although dysbarism includes problems associated with high altitude and aerospace endeavors, dysbarism also relates to the increasing pressures of descending under water that are usually experienced in free or assisted dives.

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