Have you ever wondered why we call it ‘the bends’? It’s a term used to refer to a very serious condition affecting deep-water divers.
It’s a potentially deadly condition caused by a build-up of nitrogen in the body, and it’s easy to see how it got its name. But why is it called the bends in the first place? In this article, we’ll examine why this dangerous problem came to be known as ‘the bends’ and explore its far-reaching implications.
So read on and dive into the deep science behind the bends!
Why is it called the bends?The bends, scientifically known as decompression sickness (DCS), is a severe and potentially life-threatening diving ailment that can affect scuba divers and others exposed to a change in air pressure. It is called the bends because the symptoms can resemble a person being bent double in pain.
What is the cause of the bends?The bends, is caused by the affects of a rapid change in pressure which occurs during a diver’s ascent from the depths of the sea.
When a diver descends, their lungs fills with air that contains nitrogen gas. As the diver starts to ascend, the pressure decreases and nitrogen is allowed to come out of solution in the divers bloodstream. As the nitrogen bubbles move around the body it can cause pain and blockage in the circulation system leading to a variety of symptoms known as DCS, or “the bends.
What are the symptoms of the bends?The symptoms of the bends can range from mild to severe and may appear during or immediately following a dive.
Here are the typical symptoms of decompression sickness:
- Severe joint pain – joints may feel hot, swollen and inflamed
- Appearing drunk or disoriented
- Skin rash
- Numbness and tingling in the limbs
- Shortness of breath
- Changes in consciousness
How is the bends treated?Treatment for the bends usually involves placing the diver into a chamber where the pressure can be gradually increased to a certain level.
This helps to reduce the size of the nitrogen bubbles within the body and allows them to gradually move out of the bloodstream. If left untreated, the bends can cause serious injury or death as the blocked circulation can lead to organ damage or stroke. It’s also important to understand that even after treatment, there may be long-term health effects and residual symptoms.