Oxygen Poisoning

09.03.2017 by Ina Medick
Oxygen Poisoning scuba diving

An Oxygen Poisoning happens when you breathe in a gas mixture with an oxygen pressure of more than 1.7 bar for a long time. In comparison: The normal oxygen pressure in the breathing air corresponds to about 1 bar.

What does the occurrence of an oxygen poisoning depend on?

  • Duration of the dive: Short dives with increased pressure do not affect the body as a rule.
  • Physical exertion: Higher exertion means that your body consumes more oxygen in the cells.
  • Composition of the breathing gas: Pure oxygen is more dangerous than a gas mixture such as NITROX or compressed air.
  • Diving depth: The deeper you dive the higher the pressure of the oxygen becomes and even more gas is released into your body.

Generally valid: Compressed air is more compatible than pure oxygen. With pure oxygen, you should not dive any deeper than 7 metres. With compressed air the maximum depth lies at 71 metres, as of 20 metres though the danger of a rapture of the deep increases.

How do I notice an oxygen poisoning?

The surplus of oxygen in the body can damage your organs. You notice it due to dizziness, nausea, cramps, increased temperature and itchiness. If the poisoning is already advanced, water gathers in the lungs and you start to have difficulties breathing.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you notice these symptoms on you or your diving buddy during a dive, you should abort the dive immediately. Thereby stay calm and do not panic!

Once you resurface, inform a doctor right away and breathe in only the normal breathing air. Administering oxygen would aggravate the symptoms. In case of an oxygen poisoning, you always require medical help and you must stay under observation for several hours or even days!


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