One of the detrimental conditions that affect scuba divers is nitrogen narcosis. Nitrogen narcosis is a condition in which the dissolved nitrogen and inert gas content of the blood has increased than normal.
This would affect the body’s normal physiologic function during scuba diving or deep sea diving.
This usually occurs when divers go deeper than 10 meters or 33 feet. Some feel it at shallower or deeper depths and some divers experience it at deeper depths, it differs for each diver.
Recreational diving is usually set at 18 meters or 60 feet because the deeper you go the more symptoms you would feel. How could nitrogen narcosis be prevented?
Here are ways to prevent this from occurring:
1. Ascertain that your body is fit and healthy before attempting to scuba dive
Nitrogen narcosis can affect you easily if your body is not functioning normally. People who are predisposed to this condition are usually those with neural, respiratory and central nervous disorders. Hypertensive patients and those with diabetes should be extremely careful and obtain their doctor’s clearance before deciding to go scuba diving. A general physical check-up with a competent doctor would be good.
2. Avoid diving to deeper depths if you feel any of the symptoms
As soon as you notice that you are experiencing any of the symptoms, you should ascend to shallower waters. Do not descend to more than 60 feet or 18 meters. Although 100 feet or 30
meters is acceptable for professional divers, for neophytes, the recommended depth is only 18 meters or 60 feet.
3. Do not go diving if you have not been sleeping well days before the dive
You would easily experience the symptoms because you the dizziness could easily induce you to sleep.
4. Dive only when you are not stressed out
This is essential because when you are stressed out you have the propensity to feel more the symptoms. Stress lowers your tolerance and makes you more irate which would be aggravated when combined with the symptoms of Nitrogen narcosis.
5. Wear the proper scuba diving gear
Double check that your diving gear is appropriate and properly worn. Some experts recommend the use of other breathing gases like helium, trimix and heliox. The diver has to undergo proper training however before this is attempted.
*Symptoms of nitrogen narcosis
There are several symptoms of this condition that differ for each diver. Some divers may experience the symptoms more quickly than others, while some may not. This should be taken into consideration when giving lessons for diving.
1. Feeling of light headedness
It is what you feel when you lack sleep, or when you are slightly intoxicated. This is reversible though if you ascend to higher waters. Dizziness also is experienced. You might feel dizzy like you have had some alcoholic drink or dizzy because of motion sickness.
You may find yourself disoriented because you may forget where you are. You may also have temporary forgetfulness. Once this happens, try to ascend slowly. Do not panic. It is important that the nitrogen gradually leaves your body.
You can also feel euphoric. If you do not know that this is a symptom of nitrogen narcosis, then you might proceed deeper thinking it would intensify the feeling.
4. Lack of muscle coordination
You may not be able to coordinate your movements. You become sluggish and unable to act and talk coherently. You may feel general body malaise or weakness.
5. Lack of sound judgment
Your central nervous system is affected, so you could not decide correctly. You act irrationally and do “foolish” things.
6. Shortness of breath
You may experience tachycardia or difficulty in breathing. This could cause chest pain.
Nitrogen narcosis can be prevented by knowing the symptoms and adapting the aforementioned methods to cope with it. It helps when you know all the vital information about scuba diving before you embark in the challenge and adventure.