Divers palsy

Decompression Sickness (Diver's palsy) Description, Causes and Risk Factors: Alternative Name: Caisson disease and decompression disease. Abbreviation: DCS. ICD-9-CM: 993.3. A symptom complex caused by the escape from solution in the body fluids of nitrogen bubbles absorbed originally at high atmospheric pressure, as a result of abrupt reduction in atmospheric pressure (either rapid ascent to high altitude or return from a compressed-air environment); it is characterized by headache, pain in the arms, legs, joints, and epigastrium, itching of the skin, vertigo, dyspnea, coughing, choking, vomiting, weakness and sometimes paralysis, and severe peripheral circulatory collapse; bone infarcts can occur from bubbles in nutrient vessels leading to long-term consequences. Decompression Sickness is an illness that can affect divers or other people such as miners who are in a situation that involves pressure rapidly decreasing around the body. It occurs most commonly in scuba or deepsea divers, although it also can occur during high altitude or unpressurized air travel. However, decompression sickness is rare in pressurized aircraft, such as those used for commercial flights. Types: Type I: Cutaneous Decompression Sickness: This is when the nitrogen bubbles come out of solution in skin capillaries. This normally results in a red rash, often on the shoulders and chest. Joint and Limb Pain Decompression Sickness: This type is characterized by aching in the joints. It is not known exactly what causes the pain as bubbles in the joint would not have this effect. The common theory is that it is caused by the bubbles aggravating bone marrow, tendons, and joints. The pain can be in one place or it can move around the joint. It is unusual for bisymmetrical symptoms to occur. Type II: Pulmonary Decompression Sickness: This is a rare form of Decompression Sickness that occurs when bubbles form in lung capillaries. Fortunately, the majority of the time bubbles dissolve naturally through the lungs. However, it is possible for them to interrupt blood flow to the lungs which can lead to serious and life-threatening respiratory and heart problems. Neurological Decompression Sickness: When nitrogen bubbles affect the nervous system they can cause problems throughout the body. This type of Decompression Sickness normally shows as tingling, numbness, respiratory problems, and unconsciousness. Symptoms can spread quickly and if left untreated can lead to paralysis or even death. Cerebral Decompression Sickness: It is possible for bubbles that make their way into the arterial blood stream to move to the brain and to cause an arterial gas embolism. This is extremely dangerous and can be identified by symptoms such as blurred vision, headaches, confusion, and unconsciousness. Symptoms:Decompression Sickness Symptoms of decpmression include extreme fatigue, numbness, joint and limb pain, heart problems, respiratory problems, dizziness, vertigo, confusion and headaches. Your diving history and symptoms are key factors in diagnosing decompression sickness. Blood tests and joint X-rays usually do not show any signs of the problem, although doctors send your for these if the diagnosis is not clear. Treatment: Emergency treatment for decompression sickness involves maintaining blood pressure and administering oxygen. Fluids also may be given. The key to treatment is the use of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which is a high-pressure chamber in which the patient receives 100% oxygen. This treatment reverses the pressure changes that allowed gas bubbles to form and it drives nitrogen back into its liquid form so that it can be cleared more gradually over a period of hours. It is not recommended that divers with decompression sickness attempt to treat themselves with deep diving. People with lung-related symptoms, skin rashes or neurological symptoms of decompression sickness also should be treated with hyperbaric oxygen. DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.  

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