Gennusa & Piacun

Admiralty / Maritime Law

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Diving illnesses: Protect yourself

As a commercial diver, you're part of a specialized field that offers unique experiences every day of the week. Although this may be your dream job, you don't want to lose sight of the fact that you're putting your health at risk every time you hit the water.

There are a variety of diving illnesses that can cause pain, discomfort, and in the most serious of cases, death. Here are four of the most common:

  • Ear barotrauma: This occurs when the pressure outside of the ear is greater than the pressure in the middle ear. If you fail to equalize, you could face symptoms such as: feeling of water in the ear, severe ear pain, nausea, vertigo, dizziness, hearing loss, pain when swallowing and fluid coming from the ear.
  • Pulmonary barotrauma: This lung injury occurs if you fail to hold your breath or exhale in the proper manner. Since the lungs don't feel pain in the same manner as other body parts, this illness can sneak up on you quickly. Pulmonary barotrauma can lead to a variety of serious conditions, such as subcutaneous emphysema, arterial gas embolism, pneumothorax and mediastinal emphysema.
  • Decompression sickness: This results from a rapid decrease in pressure, with symptoms including itching, joint pain, dizziness, fatigue and skin rash. These symptoms typically occur shortly after reaching the surface, but may not set in for up to one day.
  • Marine envenomation: Some marine animals have the ability to use toxins to ward off predators. Marine envenomation occurs if you come in contact with any type of toxin, such as through a puncture or sting. Common symptoms include burning, itching and other forms of irritation.

What to do after a diving illness

If you have reason to believe you're suffering from a diving illness, don't wait to seek immediate medical attention. Common symptoms can quickly take a turn for the worse, such as in the event of pulmonary barotrauma.

If you suffer a commercial diving illness or injury, your health should be your top priority. Once you are stable, you can then learn more about the cause of your illness or accident and the steps you can take to seek compensation.

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