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Diving medicine 

Diving medicine
Chapter:
Diving medicine
Author(s):

David M. Denison

, and Mark A. Glover

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198746690.003.0201
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date: 25 February 2021

Diving remains the principal means of exploring and exploiting shallower underwater zones. Immersion and rapid change in pressure with depth cause most problems unique to diving. Gas density, partial pressures, and solubility vary proportionately with ambient pressure. At elevated partial pressure, nitrogen becomes narcotic, as can other inert gases, and contaminants barely detectable at the surface can become toxic. Hyperoxia irritates the lungs and the central nervous system, sometimes causing generalized seizures. A safe gas mixture at depth can become hypoxic as the partial pressure of oxygen decreases during the return to surface. Ventilation is compromised at depth and failure of CO2 elimination increasingly limits activity. Some divers are not distressed by elevated CO2, but this does not protect them from its toxic effects.

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