Pressure Related Injuries: Most Commonly A Result of Not Following Diving Protocol

Being underwater increases the pressure on the body and on all the organs of the body. As a result, pressure related injuries most often occur in scuba diving or skin diving when the proper safety precautions aren't taken and the proper procedures aren't followed.


This occurs by descending too quickly or going too deep. It is pressure on air spaces in the body such as ears, sinuses, teeth fillings, lungs, etc. The squeeze is also felt on the scuba diving mask. Descending slowly is usually enough to prevent this from happening. But if it persists then the dive should be terminated.

Air Embolism

This is an air bubble inside the bloodstream. This air bubble may have escaped from the lungs into the blood stream when the pressure was sufficiently great and the air bubble was sufficiently small. As the diver ascends and the pressure decreases, the air bubble will enlarge and can result in a blockage. If this blockage occurs in the heart, the lungs, or the brain it can be life threatening.

Warning signs include: weakness, dizziness, paralysis, vision problems, chest pain, convulsions, and trouble breathing.

Decompression Sickness

This is sometimes referred to as the bends and occurs when small pockets of nitrogen form in the blood and body tissue. It can occur when a diver stays underwater too long, goes too deep, or ascends too quickly. It is a serious condition and requires a decompression chamber.

Warning signs include: pain, blindness, dizziness, paralysis, convulsions, unconsciousness, loss of feeling, trouble breathing, coughing, and burning in the chest.

Avoiding Pressure Injuries

To avoid the above complications when scuba diving, make sure you:

  • Follow proper diving plans.
  • Descend and ascend slowly and according to the diving charts.
  • Be aware of any changes in pressure.
  • Don't dive the day of flying as altitude can have an affect when you do dive.
  • Make sure you have obtained proper scuba diving training by a certified agency.
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