Ask Elton
Your Flight Training & Ground School Specialist

PPL » Human Factors » Decompression Sickness

10.16 Decompression Sickness

10.16.2 Define decompression sickness.

Decompression sickness, also known as "the bends," is a medical condition caused by a rapid decrease in the pressure that surrounds you, of either air or water.


10.16.4 Explain the causes of decompression sickness. 

Decompression sickness can result when the pressure on the body is reduced either too quickly or for a period of time, and gases, mainly nitrogen, come out of solution and form bubbles in the bloodstream and in the body's joints.  

Less commonly, the nitrogen bubbles may form 

  • in the skin (the creeps), 
  • the nervous system causing partial paralysis (the staggers), or 
  • the lungs (the chokes).  
  • In the worst case may cause death.


10.16.6 Describe the symptoms of decompression sickness. 

The symptoms of decompression sickness can vary depending on the severity of the condition, but they typically include:

  • joint pain,
  • fatigue,
  • dizziness, and
  • shortness of breath.


In some cases, the condition can also cause:

  • skin rashes,
  • itching, or
  • a feeling of pins and needles in the skin.


More severe cases of decompression sickness can lead to:

To see more, you must subscribe for licence "PPL" or sesssion "Human Factors"