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Carbon Dioxide Poisoning

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Wilderness: Carbon Dioxide Toxicity Related Articles

What is Carbon Dioxide Poisoning?

  • 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 Poisoning Symptoms

Carbon Dioxide Poisoning Treatment

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 for Carbon Dioxide Poisoning

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

For More Information on CO2 Poisoning

Oracle ThinkQuest, Diving: Gases and Moisture

Diving Medicine Online, CO2 Retention


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Reviewed on 10/22/2018
Medically reviewed by a Board Certified Family Practice Physician


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