Course Outline

Nitrogen Narcosis

Many experienced divers have felt the effects of what has been called “rapture of the deep” or getting the “narks” at around 30 meters/100 feet. Nitrogen narcosis is a fairly harmless phenomenon if you are aware of its existence. The narcosis develops with an increasing partial pressure of nitrogen.

Signs of nitrogen narcosis can include the following:

  • Feeling a false sense of security
  • Exercising poor judgment
  • Becoming uncoordinated
  • Having euphoric feelings, fixations, and anxiety

All symptoms are similar to being drunk on alcohol. The onset of nitrogen narcosis varies from diver to diver. Inadequate hydration and the use of some drugs, among other things, can worsen symptoms.

What Should You Do When Nitrogen Narcosis Strikes?

Unlike the effects of alcohol, nitrogen narcosis goes away as you ascend. So, simply ascend until the feeling subsides while keeping an eye on your buddy to make sure he or she is OK. As with getting drunk, there is a “funny side.” However, nitrogen narcosis should be taken seriously. Everyone reacts differently, and it is important you are on the lookout for symptoms in yourself and others. Always ascend if significant symptoms present.

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