An air or gas embolism is a bubble the becomes trapped in a blood vessel and blocks it.

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Air or gas embolism in scuba divers

It can happen if a scuba diver:

spends too lengthy underwatersurfaces as well quicklyholds their breath together they come up

Air deserve to escape native the lungs right into the blood ship (arterial gas embolism) or nitrogen balloon can form in the blood ship (decompression sickness or "the bends").

Air or gas embolisms can cause serious and potentially fatal conditions, such together a stroke or heart attack.

Call 999 and ask for an ambulance if girlfriend or who you're v feels unwell after scuba diving and also you suspect an wait or gas embolism.

Symptoms that an air or gas embolism after diving

Symptoms the an wait or gas embolism after diving include:

joint or muscle painan rarely often, rarely heartbeatblurred visionstrong feel of anxietyitchy skinbloody froth indigenous the mouthseizures or fitsloss the consciousness

You might not have actually these symptom immediately. Lock can develop within 10 come 20 minutes or sometimes also longer ~ surfacing. Carry out not neglect these symptom – gain medical aid immediately.

Getting medical help

Call 999 and ask because that an ambulance if girlfriend or someone you're with feels unwell ~ scuba diving.

A diver through a doubt air or gas embolism have to be moved to an A&E room as soon as possible.

They should be laid under flat and also given 100% oxygen until they reach hospital. As soon as stabilised, they'll be taken to a pressurised room dubbed a hyperbaric chamber, one of two people at the hospital or at an additional location.

Why diving deserve to lead to an air or gas embolism

If a diver surfaces too quickly, nitrogen bubbles can form in their tissues and bloodstream. This is regularly referred to together decompression sickness or "the bends".

Surfacing too conveniently or holding your breath while girlfriend swim to the surface can cause the wait in her lungs come expand. This might rupture lung tissue (pulmonary barotrauma), which can lead come gas bubbles being released right into the arterial circulation (arterial gas embolism).

In some divers, underlying conditions can boost the chance of decompression sickness. These must be questioned with a doctor who specialises in diving medicine.

If the gas bubble block an artery, it can cut off the blood it is provided to a particular area of the body.

The seriousness that the blockage counts on which part of the body is affected, the size of the gas bubble and also the quantity of inert gases (unreactive gases) in ~ the diver's tissues.

An waiting or gas embolism can reason different problems relying on where the blockage is:

These problems are very serious and can it is in fatal, specifically if the air embolism is no treated quickly.

Treating an wait or gas embolism resulted in by diving

After a diver v an air or gas embolism has actually received emergency medical attention and their problem has stabilised, they'll be moved to a hyperbaric chamber.

A person being treated in a hyperbaric chamber

They'll have to lie in the hyperbaric chamber for numerous hours, breath a mixture that gases and oxygen in a pressurised environment. The high pressure restores normal blood flow and also oxygen to the body's tissues, and also reduces the dimension of the air balloon in the body.

In instances of decompression sickness, the pressure forces the balloon of nitrogen come dissolve right into the bloodstream.

The press in the room is then gradually decreased to allow the gases to leaving the body, mimicking slowly surfacing from a dive.

Depending top top the severity that symptoms, treatment may need to be ongoing for numerous days.

Preventing an air or gas embolism while diving

To alleviate your danger of getting an air or gas embolism as soon as diving friend should:

limit the depth and duration of her divesalways surface ar slowly and perform safety and security stops to permit any air in her tissues and blood vessels to escape safely; use a dive computer system or dive tables to maintain a safe rate of ascent, and also do not dive again till you've invested a perfect amount the time at the surfacerelax and also breathe usually as friend ascendavoid vigorous practice before, during and also after a divemake sure you're well hydrated prior to divingleave sufficient surface intervals in between dives (if planning numerous dives) to allow the nitrogen come leave her bodywait 24 hrs after diving prior to flying or going to a higher altitude

The british Sub-Aqua club (BSAC) has an ext information about diving safety

Other causes of air or gas embolisms

Although uncommon, it's possible to acquire an wait or gas embolism during surgery, some clinical procedures, and also when ascending to a high altitude.

In hospitals and also health centres, treatment should it is in taken to avoid air embolisms by:

removing air from syringes prior to injections and also from intravenous lines prior to connecting themusing techniques when inserting and also removing catheters and also other tubes the minimise the risk of air acquiring into blood vesselsclosely security patients during surgery to help ensure wait bubbles execute not type in their blood vessels

Air embolisms led to by surgery, anaesthesia or other medical procedures have the right to be complicated to treat. Therapy is usually required to assistance the heart, blood vessels and lungs.

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For example, fluids may be offered to law a fall in blood pressure, and also oxygen may be offered to correct decreased oxygen levels. Treatment in a hyperbaric room is occasionally required in these cases.