Description of Caisson disease
Caisson disease is a condition suffered by persons operating in high pressure in diving bells or divers at depth underwater if they surface too rapidly. Also, those who fly fast, high-performance aircraft.
Persons most commonly affected by Caisson disease - adults who are divers or who work in the conditions outlined above e.g. in the oil industry, military aircraft.
Organ or part of body involved in Caisson disease - Organ or part of body involved: blood and tissues throughout the body.
Symptoms and indications of Caisson disease
Pains in the joints (the bends), headache and dizziness (decompression sickness), chest pain, breathing difficulties, unconsciousness. Paralysis and death may occur if the person does not receive emergency medical attention.
Treatment of Caisson disease
Treatment involves admittance to hospital, or a facility with a decompression chamber, until the person has recovered and been slowly readjusted to normal surface pressures.
Causes and risk factors of Caisson disease
The cause of this condition is the formation of nitrogen bubbles in the blood, which then accumulate in different parts of the body. The nitrogen bubbles hinder the normal circulation of the blood in supplying the tissues with nutrients and oxygen.
Treatment in a decompression chamber forces the nitrogen bubbles to redissolve into the blood.
There is a risk of damage to the bones, lungs, brain and heart because of the interruption of the blood circulation, particularly if the person is severely or repeatedly affected. Those working in the occupations listed above, or who take up scuba diving, should receive adequate training and have access to proper medical facilities.
The condition can be avoided by returning slowly from high to lower pressure, spending adequate time at each level.