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Nitrogen and its effects on divers

There is a condition called nitrogen narcosis which can occur to divers who breathe compressed air and it is important that they are aware of it. This condition happens when divers practice their activities in depths which are less than 100 ft and the partial pressure of nitrogen which happens in such depth might cause them to suffer this problem.

Nitrogen narcosis produces an altered state of mind which appears as a state similar to alcohol intoxication. This way, when this happens to divers, it causes them to loose control over their body and to obstruct their movements, and therefore it becomes very dangerous for their safety.

This condition, which is often called rapture of the deep, can become critical while being at 300 ft into the water due to the fact that it can completely incapacitate the diver. If this happens, the diver would suffer unconsciousness, blindness, and might even die. Therefore, it is vital that divers learn about this problem and learn how to avoid it.

The cause of nitrogen narcosis is the way gasses affect the human body according to partial pressures and Dalton's law. As a diver goes deeper into the water the gas pressure increases and the partial pressure increases with it. As this happens, human blood receives a higher amount of nitrogen dissolved into it and this affects the nerve impulses which cause divers to feel and act as if they were going through the effects of alcohol.

The symptoms of this condition might first show through several different effects such as euphoria, overexcitement, disorientation, vertigo, loss of balance, problems for properly reasoning and loss of agility. Divers who are entering into a nitrogen narcosis state could suffer one or more of these symptoms, and the deeper they are into the water the worse it would be and the more dangerous it would become.

In order to avoid going into this problem while practicing deep diving, helium could be used instead of nitrogen in order to dilute oxygen. In case of diving with rapid compression this is not recommendable neither due to the fact that the mixture of helium with oxygen could cause problems such as nausea and lightheadedness.





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