Scuba Diving Guide on How to Prevent the Bends

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Scuba Diving Guide on How to Prevent the Bends

The water sport – Scuba Diving is gaining a lot of popularity. When it comes to staying safe, knowledge is the key. As a scuba diving enthusiast, you must know your abilities, limits and must always be prepared for emergency situations.

A common health problem associated with scuba diving is Decompression Sickness (DCS), also referred to as ‘the bends’, ‘Divers Disease’ or ‘Caisson Disease’. In this condition, nitrogen in blood and tissues forms bubbles and block the blood flow. The bubbles are a result of the pressure difference one experiences from one environment to the other. They can form when a person ascends from a high-pressure environment (water) to low a pressure environment (surface).

One of the first and most common symptoms is the joint pain (arm or leg). The pain starts mildly and may progress slowly and become severe. Other symptoms of bends in scuba diving are itchy skin, unusual fatigue, dizziness, numbness, and shortness of breath.

Related: 7 Most Important Scuba Diving Tips Before You Dive In


Decompression sickness is treated in a pressure chamber. Once the patient is in the chamber, increased pressure helps in providing relief. Then, the pressure is gradually decreased to match the outside air pressure. Bends demand prompt treatment. In the absence of right treatment at the right time (i.e. immediate 100% Oxygen Intake when back on the boat), they may cause serious and lasting injuries.

Consider the following tips to prevent the bends in scuba diving:

  1. Do a safety stop: One of the basic things that can prevent a Nitrogen bubble is the added time during a safety stop. Divers are recommended to make a safety stop of 3 to 5 minutes between 15 to 20 feet at the end of a dive.
  2. Always slowly ascent to the surface: Do not ascent faster than the smallest bubbles coming out of your regulator so the nitrogen is slowly released from the tissues back in your blood circulation allowing for a safe off gassing.
  3. Follow safety guidelines: Dive tables and computers must be used to prevent the bends. They provide safety guidelines with respect to the multi-level depth profile of a dive and the respective dive times at each depth. A dive computer also helps to ensure low ascent rate.
  4. Stay Hydrated and avoid alcohol overconsumption: Lack of hydration is a common cause of bends. Dehydration slows down the process of nitrogen removal from the body. Alcohol intoxication dehydrates the body and increases the risk of DCS
  5. Avoid diving when sick: Diving under illness or injury compromises one’s performance underwater and increases the risk of decompression illness.
  6. Don’t fly immediately after diving: When diving on vacation, ensure you plan your dives in advance. In planes, the air pressure in the cabin is comparatively lower, so plan your flights at least 24 hours after your last dive.
  7. Do not run out of the air: Keep on checking your air supply during the dive. A rapid ascent or missed safety stop due to a lack of air left in your tank will increase the risk of DCS.

Related: Scuba Diving Concerns are Often Interpreted As Dangers

While these are some precaution tips to prevent the bends in scuba diving, The most important rule is to never dive beyond your training or experience level. It is very important that you get the right preparation & education with the right professionals so you avoid panic reactions in unprepared situations that might lead to Nitrogen Bubble formation due to a rapid ascent.


Hailing from the land of Chocolate, Jurgen came to India in 2004 looking to add some spice to his life. This PADI MSDT (Master Scuba Diver Trainer) and SSI AOWI (Advanced Open Water Instructor) backpacked throughout the country before docking in Havelock, where he gave birth to Scubalov. If there is one thing Jurgen loves more than diving, it is teaching.

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