Recognizing Nitrogen Narcosis
We all know the depth limit for open water divers is 60 feet. And going beyond increased the risk of getting hit by Nitrogen Narcosis. Identifying nitrogen narcosis is an important skill as you go deeper into your diving learning journey and your dive. Here is some information to get you started.
Nitrogen Narcosis: What it is!
The gas used in diving is nitrogen and as you go deeper in your dive, the partial pressure of the gas you are breathing will increase. This means that the gas will be absorbed a lot faster in your brain, nerve cells and fat tissues. This can mess up with the signals being transmitted by your brain. The results can include the following:
- A feeling of euphoria
- Finding everything funny all of a sudden
- Absentmindedness or paranoia
- Anxiety if you are paranoid
- Slower brain function
- Impaired ability to carry out simple tasks
- Reduced reaction times
- Poor coordination, judgment and memory
Unfortunately, the deeper you dive, the worse it will be getting.
Dealing with Nitrogen Narcosis
It is important to first understand its effects if you are going to deal with it. There are certain things you can do to ensure that the impact is limited:
- Make your descent slow so that the partial pressure increases gradually. It is advisable to pause every 10 meters for between ten to thirty seconds.
- Don’t drink alcohol when going diving
- Practice both your emergency and diving skills ahead of the dive
- Keep warm
- Do not overexert yourself prior to descending and during the course of the dive
- Prior to a dive and after one, be sure to keep hydrated and to rest well.
- Regularly practice by diving often and build up to the deeper dives
- Avoid loading up on tasks and keep everything simple
- Don’t be afraid of calling off a dive
If you need to quickly reduce the effects of narcosis, you should consider simply rising up to a depth that is shallower. The feeling of absentmindedness and euphoria will disappear completely or diminish at the very least. Many divers will tell you that they can easily deal with the narcosis if they are at 30 meters depth. What many of them seem not to realize is that the nitrogen may not affect you today or tomorrow; you can suffer its effects on the next dive. You need to consider narcosis your enemy, so don’t try to push your limits with nitrogen narcosis.