DAN Answer: The expectation of normal (i.e., non-pathological) tiredness following diving varies from person to person. Factors such as individual fitness, thermal stress, gear constriction, diving skill, work completed during the dive, psychological stress (positive or negative) and distraction can all affect how tired one feels. While these variables make it difficult to quantify tiredness as a symptom of decompression sickness (DCS), unusual fatigue has long been documented in association with other symptoms of DCS.
The mechanism behind fatigue as a symptom of DCS remains elusive, although it is possibly a response to a cascade of physiological events taking place in various tissues. It could be through direct stimulation of nervous tissues or indirectly through the stimulation of other tissues. It is possible that the attention currently being directed toward identifying biochemical markers of DCS will help resolve the questions. In the meantime, it is reasonable to say that DCS represents a complex, multifocal response to a decompression injury. Unusual or “undue fatigue” (that in excess of normal fatigue for a given individual and diving exposure) is a recognised symptom.
Other Common Signs and Symptoms of DCS you should look out for post-diving:
- Unusual fatigue
- Difficulty walking
Other Signs & Symptoms of DCS
- Difficulty breathing
- Visual disturbance
- Decreased skin sensation
- Itching / rash
- Muscle twitching
- Personality change
- Speech disturbance
- Altered level of consciousness
- Bladder / bowel problems
- Hearing loss / ringing ears
If you experience any signs and symptoms of DCI following diving, be sure to call the DAN Diving Emergency Service (DES) Hotline for advice (1800-088 200 toll free from within Australia or +61-8-8212 9242 outside Australia)
Answer provided by DAN’s Dr Neal W. Pollock, Ph.D.