What is the X in X-mas?
form of decompression sickness that is most frequently seen in pearl divers in Japan and the Polynesian islands. These skin divers acquire their pearls by making breath-holding dives down to depths as great as 165 feet (about 50 m). During a day's work, they may make 60 to 100 dives in succession, with intervals of only a few seconds to two minutes between dives. The major symptoms of the syndrome range from pain in the joints to paralysis-if the central nervous system is affected. The taravana syndrome can be avoided by allowing surface intervals of 5 to 10 minutes between dives, permitting the nitrogen accumulated from the previous dive to escape the body before the next dive increases the amount of nitrogen retained. Compare decompression sickness; thoracic squeeze.