Scuba Diving: Nitrogen Narcosis

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Nitrogen Narcosis Facts

  • Breathing nitrogen under pressure produces an intoxicating effect known as nitrogen narcosis.
  • Most divers experience symptoms of nitrogen narcosis at depths greater than 100 feet, but symptoms may occur in depths as little as 33 feet.
  • For this reason, use of compressed air deeper than 120 feet is not recommended.
  • Ascent reverses the symptoms of nitrogen narcosis.
  • Factors that increase the risk of narcosis include: 

Nitrogen Narcosis Symptoms

Symptoms include:

  • light-headedness,
  • inattention,
  • difficulty concentrating,
  • poor judgment,
  • anxiety,
  • decreased coordination,
  • hallucinations, and
  • coma.

Nitrogen narcosis can lead to death.

Nitrogen Narcosis Treatment

  • Ascend from the depth at which the symptoms become apparent.
  • If symptoms fail to resolve after ascent, narcosis is not the cause of the symptoms.

When to Seek Medical Care for Nitrogen Narcosis

Seek medical treatment if symptoms persist.

Reviewed on 11/20/2017
Sources: References

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