- Common medical problems in scuba diving include cuts, scrapes and other injuries to the arms and legs and pain in the ear (the "squeezes") due to the difference in pressure between the middle ear and mask during the descent into the water. Less common but more dangerous health hazards of scuba diving include inner ear barotrauma, pulmonary barotrauma, arterial gas embolism (AGE), and decompression sickness ("the bends"). Inner ear barotrauma occurs when the diver has trouble clearing during a dive and is characterized by severe dizziness and hearing loss. Pulmonary barotrauma results from improper breathing during the ascent or diving with a respiratory tract infection and is characterized by hoarseness, shortness of breath and chest pain. Arterial gas embolism (AGE) is a very serious form of pulmonary barotrauma in which bubbles enter the circulation and travel to the brain causing numbness or tingling of the skin, weakness, paralysis and sometimes loss of consciousness. Decompression sickness ("the bends") occurs during ascent and on the surface of the water when inert nitrogen gas dissolved in body tissues and blood comes out of solution and forms bubbles in the blood. The bubbles can block blood vessels and injure organs, particularly the spinal cord, brain and lungs.
Medical dictionary. 2011.
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