How do decompression chambers work?
Question by Penny Walters
Hyperbaric chambers work by reproducing high atmospheric pressure to reverse the symptoms of decompression sickness (‘the bends’). When scuba
diving, nitrogen from a diver’s air tank dissolves into their bloodstream. Ascending too quickly causes a rapid pressure drop and bubbles of nitrogen to form, a bit like when you open a fizzy drink. Symptoms can include muscle pain and fatigue. By subjecting a person suffering from the bends to increased pressure, the nitrogen in their blood is forced back into solution, relieving the symptoms. By gradually reducing the pressure inside the chamber the patient is brought back to normal air pressure.
For more science and technology articles, pick up the latest copy of How It Works from all good retailers or from our website now. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, subscribe today!