The two most frequent serious diving related accidents are Arterial Gas Embolism (AGE) and Decompression Sickness (DCS). These conditions are more normally referred to as Decompression Illness (DCI).
DCS is thought to result from inert gas bubbles growing in tissues and causing damage, while AGE results from bubbles travelling through the body’s arterial circulation and causing tissue damage by blocking blood flow.
Decompression Illness mainly affects divers, although aviators, astronauts and compressed air workers can also suffer from DCI.
Fortunately both conditions require the same First Aid treatment. Symptoms of Decompression Illness can occur immediately on surfacing and normally within 48 hours. However symptoms can sometimes develop more than 48 hours after diving especially where the victim has travelled to altitude or flown soon after diving.
The signs and symptoms of both injuries are very similar and can be hard to differentiate between them, therefore do not lose time trying to establish exactly what type of DCI it is, always get professional attention at the earliest opportunity.