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Decompression sickness is caused by the absorption and release of inhaled gases under differing pressure environments and changes of pressure. At altitude, atmospheric pressure is lower than at sea level, so surfacing at the end of an altitude dive leads to a greater reduction in pressure and so more risk of decompression sickness.
Normally dive computers detect changes in altitude and automatically adjust their calculation of a safe decompression regime for a dive at that altitude. If an altitude-aware computer is not used, altitude-aware decompression tables must be used.
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