The scuba diving bends is what most divers probably think about when they think of dive illnesses or accidents.
Better known simply as "the bends" or decompression illness (dci for short), it is something we all want to avoid.
According to Divers Alert Network (DAN), approximately 1,000 U.S. scuba divers suffer from the bends each year so it is not an uncommon occurrence.
"The bends" is the illness that results from nitrogen bubbles being formed in your blood stream and/or tissues.
It is caused by decreasing pressure too quickly after a period of increased pressure (such as ascending too quickly after a dive).
It gets its name from the fact that nitrogen bubbles may form in or near the joints, causing pain and causing the diver to "bend over".
The main cause of the bends is a change in pressure and what this does to the nitrogen in our body.
The air in a standard scuba tank (this excludes nitrox diving) is comprised of 79% nitrogen and 21% oxygen.
As we descend, pressure increases. Thus the nitrogen in our tanks will increase in pressure as we go deeper.
Our body tissue absorbs the nitrogen we are breathing from the air in our tanks in proportion to the surrounding pressure. So the deeper we go and the more pressure being exerted, the more nitrogen our tissues will absorb to maintain equilibrium.
The longer and deeper the dive, the more nitrogen is absorbed by our bodies. As long we we remain under pressure there is no problem.
The problem occurs when we begin to ascend and the pressure begins to decrease. Since we are decreasing the pressure as we ascend, our body wants to decrease the amount of nitrogen in our system to maintain equilibrium.
Since the body does not metabolize this nitrogen, we must somehow get rid of it.
This is exactly what happens to the nitrogen in our bodies as we ascend after a dive.
We are decreasing pressure and the nitrogen is released from our tissues into our bloodstream. It then reaches our lungs and is exhaled as we breathe.
Letting the nitrogen out at a safe rate is what is key for the diver. If we ascend too quickly, the body won't be able to expel all the nitrogen and bubbles will form in our tissue and bloodstream.
So we have to slowly decrease the pressure so our bodies have time to safely expel the nitrogen without forming bubbles. Just like that bottle of soda (or beer if you will).
This is the reason why a slow, controlled ascent is so important in scuba diving. You are letting the body get rid of the accumulated nitrogen.
It is also the reason why every non-decompression dive should end with at least a 3 minute safety stop and the next dive should never begin before an appropriate surface interval.
Want to stay down longer and improve your buoyancy control and other diving skills? Our free report "Increase Your Bottom Time" along with our practical, weekly actionable tips will have you looking like a seasoned diver in no time. So come join us and see improvement on your very next dive!
(Click on the photo to join us now!)
Jun 12, 18 10:26 AM
Looking to purchase childrens wetsuits or rash guards? We'll give you tips on buying the best kids wetsuit or rash guard. What you want to look for in a wetsuit to keep your child warm...
Jun 07, 18 05:08 PM
Jun 06, 18 03:25 PM
It is fast approaching. Almost as fast as this year has gone by. LOL. World Ocean day is June 8, 2018. Our oceans are in dire need of protection and help. Let's do everything we can to protect that wh…
Dec 21, 17 09:27 AM
It's a beautiful sunny day, birds are singing, colorful flowers pointing their faces towards the sun and a soft warm breeze touching your skin. I'm wondering..
Nov 29, 17 01:01 PM
Where does the time go? Another year has gone by in a flash. I hope you were able to get some good scuba diving in this year! While I didn't get much diving in, I was able to swim with whalesharks, se…
CONNECT WITH US ON FB!
(Link goes to our other site, scubadivetips.com)
See our choices for the best scuba equipment for any budget.
What you need to know (and ask) before you book a dive vacation package.