Gastric Squeeze

  • Medical Author: Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM
  • Medical Editor: N Stuart Harris, MD, MFA
  • Medical Editor: Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
  • Medical Editor: James Kimo Takayesu, MD
Reviewed on 10/8/2021

What Is Gastric Squeeze?

  • 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.

What Are Gastric Squeeze Symptoms and Signs?

Symptoms and signs 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.

What Is the Treatment for Gastric Squeeze?

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

FamilyDoctor.org, Scuba Diving Safety

The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, Decompression Illness

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Reviewed on 10/8/2021
References
Medically reviewed by a Board Certified Family Practice Physician

REFERENCE:

Hayden, JD, Davies, JB, Martin, IG. "Diaphragmatic rupture resulting from gastrointestinal barotrauma in a scuba diver." Br J Sports Med 32.1 Mar. 1998: 75-6M.

U.S. National Library of Medicine

Patient Comments & Reviews

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