Did You Know? The signs and symptoms of decompression illness (DCI) are many and varied as bubbles can affect a variety of body organs, including the brain, spinal cord, nerves, lungs, heart, tendons, muscles, bones, skin, bladder and inner ear. The severity can range from almost undetectable minor symptoms, such as mild tingling in a fingertip, to severe life threatening symptoms such as unconsciousness and absent breathing.
Common Signs and Symptoms of DCI include numbness / tingling, nausea, headache, feeling unwell, rash, weakness, pain/discomfort at the joint, dizziness, chest/torso or back pain; and extreme fatigue. Numbness and tingling are very common symptoms as is extreme fatigue. Such symptoms, if relatively mild, are often overlooked or thought to be due to something other than DCI, such as muscle strain; as a result first aid and treatment is often delayed.
Other signs and symptoms include blotchy skin, confusion, convulsions, coughing, death, difficulty breathing, difficulty passing urine, hearing loss, lack of coordination, itch, loss of balance, loss of bladder/bowel control, paralysis, personality change, ringing in ears, impaired responsiveness, speech disturbances, visual disturbances.
Any signs or symptoms that appear within 24 to 48 hours of diving should be suspected of being diving-related. It is important to get specialist diving medical advice as soon as possible and not to dive again until this is done. Call a DAN-supported diving emergency hotline for advice.
ALL divers can call a DAN Hotline for advice; HOWEVER, DAN can only arrange an Emergency Evacuation and Treatment and cover associated costs for current DAN Members, within the limits of their coverage.
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