Doctor's Notes on Gastric Squeeze
Gastric squeeze (gas in the gut) can occur in scuba divers as air and gas in the body swells while descending and can collect in the gut and expand during ascent in the abdominal lumen. Symptoms and signs of abdominal squeeze are
- abdominal fullness,
- abdominal cramps,
- abdominal pain,
- belching, and
Rarely, the diver may pass out or rupture the G.I. tract due to the squeezing gas pressure inside the bowel.
The cause of gastric squeeze is expanding air or gas pressing or squeezing the gut tissue during ascent by a diver. Contributing factors include drinking carbonated beverages before diving, eating beans, chewing gum during diving, and equalizing ear pressure with the diver's head downward.
What Are the Treatments for Gastric Squeeze?
In most individuals, gastric squeeze is self-limiting (the condition occurs in some scuba divers) by the gas bubbles generated during a diver's ascent. It may be relieved by simply stopping the ascent for a short decompression interval with belching and/or flatulence. Once the squeeze symptoms resolve, the diver can continue the ascent. You need to alert your diving partner about your situation. Rarely, a diver can pass out or have so much gastric pressure generated that a GI rupture may happen.
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.