Definition of decompression sickness in US English:

decompression sickness


  • A condition that results when sudden decompression causes nitrogen bubbles to form in the tissues of the body. It is suffered particularly by divers (who often call it the bends), and can cause pain in the muscles and joints, cramps, numbness, nausea, and paralysis.

    Also called caisson disease
    • ‘The incidence of decompression sickness among recreational scuba divers is estimated to be one case per 5,000 to 10,000 dives.’
    • ‘The majority of recreational divers with neurologic decompression sickness have an excellent recovery after prompt recompression therapy.’
    • ‘A long-standing mystery in marine biology is whether whales suffer from decompression sickness, aka the bends, after rapidly rising from the ocean depths.’
    • ‘The woman reported symptoms of decompression sickness, or the bends, and was immediately put on oxygen as their boat headed back to the harbour.’
    • ‘Diving while your body is dehydrated leads to aching muscles, fatigue and even decompression sickness - it's that serious.’


decompression sickness

/ˈˌdēkəmˈpreSHən ˈsiknis/