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 Tahoe’s altitude, diving below 25 feet introduces greater risk of divers succumbing to decompression sickness. Gregory Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 May 2021 Scores of fishermen have died from decompression sickness in the past three decades, according to estimates by local fishermen and community leaders. New York Times, 24 Jan. 2021 On surfacing, after a three-minute safety stop 15-feet below the surface to ensure nitrogen is released from the bloodstream safely to avoid decompression sickness, divers wait by their float as Capt. John Christopher Fine, sun-sentinel.com, 31 Dec. 2020 The release said a 22-year-old man who suffered shortness of breath in the dive was flown to Seattle to be treated with hyperbaric oxygen, a therapy for decompression sickness. NBC News, 3 Nov. 2020 This allows aquanauts to easily slip out and conduct underwater research using saturation diving—a technique that reduces the risk of decompression sickness. Elissaveta M. Brandon, Smithsonian Magazine, 24 Aug. 2020 Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has long been used to treat scuba divers who develop decompression sickness. Washington Examiner, 4 Aug. 2020 In some cases, the crew may pressurize the suit to help deter cases of decompression sickness. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, 16 Oct. 2019 Hundreds have been stricken with the bends, the decompression sickness caused when nitrogen bubbles form in divers’ bodies. Washington Post, 5 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for decompression sickness

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The first known use of decompression sickness was in 1941

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Dictionary Entries Near decompression sickness

decompression chamber

decompression sickness

deconcentrate

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Cite this Entry

“Decompression sickness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decompression%20sickness. Accessed 17 Sep. 2021.

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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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