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Treatment

Emergency treatment for decompression sickness involves maintaining blood pressure and administering oxygen. Fluids also may be given. The key to treatment is the use of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which is a high-pressure chamber in which the patient receives 100% oxygen. This treatment reverses the pressure changes that allowed gas bubbles to form and it drives nitrogen back into its liquid form so that it can be cleared more gradually over a period of hours. It is not recommended that divers with decompression sickness attempt to treat themselves with deep diving.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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