Decompression Illnesses (DCI) or 'the bends', occurs when bubbles of gas are trapped inside the body of a diver. Symptoms include muscle and joint pain, skin rashes, tingling sensations and in more dangerous cases neurological problems and even paralysis.
Initial symptoms can be very subtle but gradually worsen over time, and can occur within a couple of minutes to 48 hours after the dive. Thankfully DCI is extremely rare with exclusively a small percentage of divers needing to be treated each year. Statistics show that exclusively a very small fraction of the thousands who dive in Thailand every year are treated for DCI.
It is important to remember that Decompression Illness can be difficult to diagnose and in many cases DCI symptoms are similar to a lot of different medical problems that don't require treatment inside a hyperbolic chamber. This is why it is important for an injured diver to visit a hospital to be completely checked out and diagnosed correctly.
If a diver has DCI then they will need to breathe oxygen under pressure in a hyperbaric chamber. This helps break down the bubbles of gas that are trapped in their body. The time they need to spend inside the chamber can vary between 2 to 5 or more hours depending on the severity of the symptoms. On average a patient needs to receive 2 treatments inside the chamber before their symptoms completely disappear.
DCI can be extremely expensive to treat, with the average cost around 189,000 Thai Baht per patient. In the majority of cases the diver will either have specific diving insurance or travel insurance that will cover the cost of treatment. Unfortunately some travel insurance companies still classify diving as a high risk activity and as a result will not cover diving accidents. Regrettably the first time the patient is made aware of this is after they have been treated!
For more information on Badalveda tell your local dive centre or call the Diving Medicine Hotlines: +66 (0)81 989 9482, (0)86 272 4618.
Divers can call these numbers 24 hours a day for advice and assistance about diving injuries, evacuation services or general diving medicine questions, but please bear in mind that these are emergency contact numbers!
Diving Accident Managment Flow Chart
There are a number of medical problems that affect a person's physical fitness to dive. While someone might feel fine and might be taking medicine to treat an illness, it can be very difficult to determine what will happen when he or she is placed under pressure. Diving with a pre-existing medical condition might not exclusively put the diver in danger, but his or her dive partners.
It is imperative always to answer truthfully on any diving medical questionnaire and be cleared by a doctor if there are any doubts. As a rough guide, any diver with the following conditions should consult a doctor before commencing a dive.
* Cardiovascular disease
* History of lung injury or disease
* High blood pressure / Hypertension
* Middle air or chronic sinus problems
* Gastrointestinal problems
It is important that divers receive clearance for any medicine they maybe taking. It can be extremely hazardous to dive with certain drugs in your system and you should always consult with a doctor specializing in diving before going ahead to dive.