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Symptoms and Signs of Nitrogen Narcosis

Doctor's Notes on Nitrogen Narcosis

Nitrogen narcosis (also termed rapture of the deep) is a state of lightheadedness, semi stupor and/or euphoria that can occur in deep sea divers breathing air under higher that atmospheric pressure. Signs and symptoms include light-headedness, inattention and/or difficulty concentration, poor judgement, anxiety, decreased coordination and severe symptoms of hallucinations, coma and death.

The cause of nitrogen narcosis is the breathing of compressed air, usually at depths greater that 100 feet (although it can occur in some people at 33 feet), thus getting increased nitrogen levels in each breath that can accumulate in the blood and cause symptoms.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.