Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Risk Factors Symptoms Evaluation Treatment Warning Signs Prevention Underlying Cause

Diver Decompression Illness Treatment

The initial treatment for decompression illness includes oxygen therapy. Those with severe decompression illness require admission to the hospital for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves placing the person with decompression illness into a sealed chamber. Inside the chamber, the air pressure is increased far beyond normal atmospheric pressure. The increased pressure compresses bubbles of gas in the body, and the gas molecules dissolve in the bloodstream. Once the molecules of gas are in the bloodstream, the harmful gas can be expelled by the lungs.

Additional medications for decompression illness include aspirin, corticosteroid medications, and narcotic pain medications or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain.

Treatment for decompression illness may include:

Continue to Diver Decompression Illness Warning Signs

Last Updated: Jun 8, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
Copyright DSHI Systems, Inc. Powered by: FreeMD - Your Virtual Doctor

PubMed Diver Decompression Illness References
  1. Arness MK. Scuba decompression illness and diving fatalities in an overseas military community. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1997 Apr;68(4):325-33. [9096830]
  2. Freiberger JJ, Lyman SJ, Denoble PJ, Pieper CF, Vann RD.Consensus factors used by experts in the diagnosis of decompression illness. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2004 Dec;75(12):1023-8. [15619855]
  3. Germonpre P. Patent foramen ovale and diving. Cardiol Clin. 2005 Feb;23(1):97-104. [15676273]
  4. Hunt JC. Diving the wreck: risk and injury in sport scuba diving. Psychoanal Q. 1996 Jul;65(3):591-622. [8856825]
  5. Moon RE, de Lisle Dear G, Stolp BW. Treatment of decompression illness and latrogenic gas embolism. Respir Care Clin N Am. 1999 Mar;5(1):93-135. [10205814]
  6. Smerz RW. Age associated risks of recreational scuba diving. Hawaii Med J. 2006 May;65(5):140-1, 153. [16774142]
  7. Tetzlaff K, Shank ES, Muth CM. Evaluation and management of decompression illness--an intensivist's perspective. Intensive Care Med. 2003 Dec;29(12):2128-36. [14600806]
  8. Tetzlaff K, Thorsen E.Breathing at depth: physiologic and clinical aspects of diving while breathing compressed gas. Clin Chest Med. 2005 Sep;26(3):355-80, v. [16140132]
FreeMD is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for evaluation and treatment by a physician. Please review our terms of use.