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Scuba Diving: Carbon Dioxide Toxicity

Carbon Dioxide Toxicity Overview

Inadequate ventilation when scuba diving results in carbon dioxide build-up. Inadequate breathing, a tight wetsuit, overexertion, regulator malfunction, deep diving, and contamination of the air supply with exhaled gases often cause a carbon dioxide buildup. Carbon dioxide levels in the blood can increase, causing shortness of breath and sedation, resulting in carbon dioxide toxicity.

Carbon Dioxide Toxicity Symptoms

Patient Comments
  • Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, rapid breathing and heart rate, and flushing can occur with carbon dioxide poisoning.
  • Severe cases of carbon dioxide toxicity progress to confusion, convulsions, and loss of consciousness.

Carbon Dioxide Toxicity Treatment

Patient Comments

Treat people with carbon dioxide toxicity as follows:

  • Administer fresh air or oxygen.
  • Allow the person to rest.
  • Call 911 if the person develops severe symptoms or is unresponsive.

When to Seek Medical Care

Medical assistance is generally not required for people with carbon dioxide toxicity, except in severe cases as defined above.

For More Information

Oracle ThinkQuest, Diving: Gases and Moisture

Diving Medicine Online, CO2 Retention

Medically reviewed by A Board Certified Family Practice Physician


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2014

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Scuba Diving: Carbon Dioxide Toxicity:

Carbon Dioxide Toxicity - Symptoms

What symptoms did you experience from carbon dioxide toxicity?

Carbon Dioxide Toxicity - Treatment

What treatment did you receive for your carbon dioxide toxicity?



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