How to Avoid Decompression Illness
Decompression illness, or DCI, is a term used to describe an illness that results from a reduction in the ambient pressure surrounding a body. There are two types of DCI: Decompression sickness, which is the result from bubbles growing in tissue causing local damage, and Arterial Gas Embolism, which results from bubbles entering the lung circulation, traveling through the arteries and causing tissue damage at a distance by blocking blood flow at the small vessel level.
What causes a diver to get DCI?
There are several reasons why a diver may get DCI, but among the most important ones we can list: rapid ascents, exceeding no decompression limits underwater, flying immediately after diving, being dehydrated, diving after an illness or fracture, deep diving etc.
Who can get DCI
Although every diver is susceptible to get DCI, there are some factors that increase the risk. Obesity and age are two of the most important ones. Divers with those characteristics should always dive under the supervision of their doctors.
How to avoid DCI?
1) Avoid deep dives. If you are a recreational diver the maximum recommended depth is 30 mts / 100 feet.
2) Ascent at a rate that does not exceed 18 mts / 60 feet per minute
3) Make a safety stop at the end of every dive
4) Do not make decompression dives without the proper training and equipment.
5) Understand your dive tables and /or computer and never dive beyond their limits.
6) Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids before, after and in between dives.
7) If you are taking prescription medications, seek your physician advice before diving.
8) Wait at least 24 hours before flying.
In conclusion, understanding DCI is the best way to prevent it. Should you have any questions, ask your doctor, dive shop or instructor.