Risks of Diving and How to Reduce Them

Oxygen Toxicity

Oxygen toxicity is a risk for scuba divers who expose themselves to high concentrations of oxygen by diving deep or by using mixed gases. This risk is easily managed by complying with safety guidelines.

Oxygen toxicity is rarely seen in sports diving. It refers to the mental and physical impairment that a diver may experience when exposed to elevated levels of respired oxygen for a prolonged period of time. One might experience toxicity under water or in a decompression chamber (highly concentrated oxygen is often used to treat acute decompression illness in a chamber). Symptoms may include abnormal sensations, impaired muscular function of the arms and legs, pallor (a whitening of the skin), twitching of the facial muscles, nausea, dizziness, and/or convulsions (seizure activity). Remember, a blue unconscious diver is oxygen starved and a white (pallor) unconscious diver may have been over-exposed to oxygen.

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Nitrogen Narcosis

Nitrogen narcosis is an altered state of mind caused by breathing nitrogen at a high partial pressure. The deeper a diver descends, the higher the partial pressure of nitrogen and other gasses in his air will be. For this reason, nitrogen narcosis is usually thought of as a function of depth. The deeper a diver goes, the greater the narcosis.

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 Pulmonary Barotrauma

What is the most important rule in scuba diving? Breathe continuously and never hold your breath. In basic scuba training a divers is taught that he must avoid holding this breath and trapping air in his lungs because this could cause his lungs to explode from expanding air on ascent. Just explaining this is enough to frighten students in to following the rule, but the details of what happens to a diver’s lungs when they over-expand are usually glossed over. For example, did you know that other conditions and actions besides holding your breath can cause lung over-expansion? Here is important information that divers should know about lung over-expansion, or pulmonary barotrauma.

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Decompression sickness

Decompression sickness can strike in many forms. One frequently overlooked form of decompression sickness is skin bends. Some forms of skin bends may require recompression treatment in a hyperbaric chamber, while others may eventually disappear on their own. No matter what the type, all skin bends should be reviewed by a hyperbaric doctor. Here is some basic information on skin bends, including the different forms; how to recognize a skin bend; and other problems that this kind of bend may indicate.

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Reference: By , About.com Guide