decompression sickness

noun

: 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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Using less nitrogen will mean your tissues absorb less, giving you a lower chance of decompression sickness. WIRED, 25 Nov. 2022 The salvage work ended that summer, however, after one diver died and two others were paralyzed from decompression sickness. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 23 June 2022 Several medical conditions like severe anemia, decompression sickness and burns are treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which aims to promote healing within the body. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, 4 May 2022 Includes inflating tubes to prevent ebullism, which is similar to decompression sickness. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, 2 May 2022 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 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

1941, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of decompression sickness was in 1941

Dictionary Entries Near decompression sickness

Cite this Entry

“Decompression sickness.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/decompression%20sickness. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

decompression sickness

noun

Medical Definition

decompression sickness

noun
variants also decompression illness or decompression syndrome
: 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

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