decompression sickness

noun

Definition of decompression sickness

: a sometimes fatal condition that is caused by the release of gas bubbles typically of nitrogen as it leaves its dissolved form throughout the body upon a rapid decrease in barometric pressure (such as that experienced by the rapid ascent of a diver from a deep dive or the rapid ascent of a pilot to high altitudes in a poorly pressurized aircraft) and that is marked chiefly by joint pain which may be accompanied in mild forms by fatigue and itching or burning of the skin and in more severe forms by shortness of breath, chest pain, paralysis, and confusion

called also bends, caisson disease

Examples of decompression sickness in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Because of the depth, technical divers must make several stops during their ascent from the bottom of the ocean to avoid decompression sickness. Neil Vigdor, New York Times, "U.S. Ship Sunk in World War II by German Sub Is Found Off Maine Coast," 19 July 2019 This was done to avoid decompression sickness, a condition similar to what scuba divers experience when changing air pressures too rapidly. Ellie Silverman, Washington Post, "Donald Peterson Sr., who spacewalked from the shuttle Challenger, dies at 84," 29 May 2018 And like Atiliano, hundreds have been stricken with the bends — decompression sickness caused when nitrogen bubbles form in divers’ bodies. Moises Castillo, The Seattle Times, "AP PHOTOS: Lobster divers risk injury, death in Honduras," 26 Dec. 2018 This in turn keeps them away from entering joints and blocking blood supply to organs, which can cause lethal decompression sickness, aka the bends. Matthew Berger, Smithsonian, "Dolphins Have a Mysterious Network of Veins That Could Be Key to Preventing the Bends," 26 May 2018 The crew donned their oxygen masks and shortly thereafter the captain became incapacitated from decompression sickness. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "Investigators insist MH370 crash was an accident, not a mass murder-suicide by pilot," 22 May 2018 For the past 50 years, hyperbaric therapy has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for non-healing wounds, carbon monoxide poisoning, burns and decompression sickness. David Kohn, Washington Post, "Could hyperbaric treatment heal the brain?," 27 Jan. 2018 But documents received under the Freedom of Information Act showed that two men, each 38 years old, both got decompression sickness, known as the bends, on separate deep dives on Dec. 10 after taking unacceptable risks. Carol Rosenberg, miamiherald, "Navy base shuts down diving after two cases of the bends | Miami Herald," 11 Jan. 2018 After her husband, engineer Augustus Roebling (son of John Augustus Roebling, who conceived the bridge), suffered a near-fatal case of decompression sickness supervising underwater construction of the towers, Emily stepped in. Sophia Dembling, Smithsonian, "Eight Places to Celebrate the Accomplishments of Great American Women," 19 Jan. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decompression sickness.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of decompression sickness

1941, in the meaning defined above

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24 Jul 2019

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The first known use of decompression sickness was in 1941

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More Definitions for decompression sickness

decompression sickness

noun
variants: also decompression illness or decompression syndrome

Medical Definition of decompression sickness

: a sometimes fatal condition that is caused by the release of gas bubbles typically of nitrogen as it leaves its dissolved form throughout the body upon a rapid decrease in barometric pressure (such as that experienced by the rapid ascent of a diver from a deep dive or the rapid ascent of a pilot to high altitudes in a poorly pressurized aircraft)

Note: Decompression sickness is marked chiefly by joint pain and is often accompanied in mild forms by fatigue and itching or burning of the skin frequently with discoloration. More serious forms may manifest with shortness of breath, chest pain, numbness, muscle weakness or paralysis, visual disturbances, incontinence, confusion, and hypovolemic shock. Individuals affected with decompression sickness are typically treated in a hyperbaric chamber.

called also bends, caisson disease

— see aeroembolism, choke entry 2 sense 2

More from Merriam-Webster on decompression sickness

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about decompression sickness

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