Preventing the Bends

Diving can be one of life’s most special and enjoyable activity, personally it is my strategy in maintaining my equilibrium. I treasure my underwater moments and discoveries – there is always joy in diving. Admittedly though, there are risks and we all knew this since the early days when we took our first lessons in diving. The ever present possibility of decompression sickness (DCS) is always on the lookout. DCS or the bends is a big turn-off for others, indeed it is not for the faint hearted.

diving emergencies

Of course, the bends can be avoided as we all learned, by following the guidelines and using our common sense. Here are few rules I lifted from Dive Medic written by Steve Muscat in Asian Diver:

1. If you have extra air left, why not do more deco than required, even if your computer says you don’t need it, especially if you are enjoying it. Computers give you the minimum stop required, but if you want to be really safe, you can do a really long, shallow stop.

2. The second common cause of DCS today is deep double dives with too short a surface interval. This is present in places with multiple or large wrecks in deeper water, because divers dive more than once at the same site. Contrary to what one finds in the literature, inner ear DCS has become much common in sport diving. Reverse profile diving is commonly associated with more hits. So, if you are doing a 15 meters and a 40 meters dive, the deep one should be the first. Also, if diving repeatedly all week, slot in a day off to avoid accumulation of nitrogen.

3. In warm climates, hydration is always a problem. Divers notoriously don’t drink enough before a dive and after a dive. Drinking alcohol before a dive increases dehydration, even if it is only a couple of beers the night before.

4. Diving with any form of illness or infection will also contribute to a hit. Signs of an infection is commonly found on a DCS patient even if they are feeling fine.

5. Acclimatisation is also another factor. Like climbing a mountain, one needs to build up to a deep dive. Some divers get a hit from a dive they commonly do, just because they had not dived for some months. Age is another consideration. When diving remote places do not push profiles just because you have done the dive before 30 years ago! It is also a well-documented fact that divers should avoid strenuous exercise before and after a dive as this can increase the chance of DCS.

Finally, many cases of undeserved DCS are seen. The scenario is usually a tourist who has taken on two consecutive dives deemed safe on computer but end up with a skin or inner ear DCS. A lot of these are found to have a PFO2 on investigation. So again if diving off grid, keep a safer profile than the usual.

There are obviously other factors involved in DCS causation. But if one follows the simple rules with common sense, DCS will be one less worry.

Diving is one sport where mindfulness and cautiousness is necessary, while one may  be too comfortable based on long experience, Yet following the basics one can never go wrong.

Here are list of Recompression Chambers in the Philippines in case of emergency:

Batangas City

Batangas Hyperbaric and Wound Healing Center
St. Patrick’s Hospital Medical Center
Lopez Jaena St. Batangas City 4200
Batangas, Philippines
Tel. +63-43-723-8388 Fax. +63-43-723-1606
Beeper: 150-611-169
Email: ,

Cavite City

Sangley Recompression Chamber
NSWG, Philippine Fleet
Naval Base Cavite
Sangley Point, Cavite City, Philippines
Contact Person: Capt. Pablo Acacio
Phone: +63 (46) 524-2061 local 4191 / 4193

Makati City

DAN (Divers Alert Network) SE Asia Pacific:
Suite 123, Makati Medical Center,
2 Amorsolo St., Makati City 1200
Tel. No. (632) 817-5601
Contact Person: Dr. Benjamin Luna M.D.

Quezon City

AFP Medical Center – Recompression Chamber
V. Luna Road, Quezon City, Philippines
Contact Person: Jojo Bernardo, M.D., Fred C. Martinez
Phone: +63 (2) 920-7183
Phone: +63 (2) 426-2701 local 8991 / 6445


Subic Recompression Chamber
Subic Bay Freeport Zone,
SBMA, Olongapo City, Philippines
Contact Person: Randy Delara, Lito Roque
Phone: +63 (47) 252-7566
Phone: +63 (47) 252-7052, 252-5211 (evening)


Cebu Recompression Chamber
Viscom Station Hospital
Military Camp Lapu-Lapu
Lahug, Cebu City, Philippines
Contact Person: Mamerto Ortega, Mamerto Ortega
Phone: +63 (32) 310-709 Chamber
Phone: +63 (32) 232-2464 to 68 local 3625 / 233-9942

Roving Chamber

Philippine Coast Guard Action Center
Roving Vessel Chamber
Tel. No. (632) 527-3880

M/S BRP SAN JUAN 001 (Based in Cebu)

NB. Photo credits to

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.