What are ‘the bends’?

(Image credit: Mael Balland/ Unsplash) 

Question from Howard Salazar

Not nice, that’s for sure! Although it’s the oxygen in the air we need to live, air is mostly nitrogen. Normally nitrogen dissolves in our blood. When scuba divers come back to the water’s surface too fast, dissolved nitrogen can form bubbles. These bubbles block blood vessels, causing decompression sickness. 

One symptom, painful muscle spasms, is known as ‘the bends’. The blocked blood vessels also make it hard to breathe, which is known as ‘the chokes’.


Answered by Andy Extance for Brain Dump.

To feature in our Brain Dump section, send us your questions to howitworks@futurenet.com or message us on Facebook or Twitter


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!

You may also like...