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Aviat Space Environ Med. 2006 May;77(5):526-32.

CNS toxicity in closed-circuit oxygen diving: symptoms reported from 2527 dives.

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Israel Naval Medical Institute, IDF Medical Corps, Haifa, Israel.



Oxygen toxicity is a problem in diving and can have fatal consequences in the water. Various aspects of oxygen diving have been studied in dry hyperbaric chambers, but there is a lack of information on in-water diving using closed-circuit oxygen apparatus.


We collected 2527 dive reports from 473 closed-circuit oxygen divers (a mean of 5.2 reports per diver), and analyzed the relationships between various symptoms and their dependence on depth and diving time.


No CNS oxygen toxicity-related symptoms were reported at a depth of 2 m seawater (msw), but their proportion increased at depths from 3 to 6 msw. We found that CNS oxygen toxicity-related symptoms appeared in 2.5% of dives conducted at a Po2 of 119 kPa. The main symptoms and signs reported were headache: 4.5%; nausea: 2.6%; hyperventilation: 2.6%; heavy breathing: 2.4%; dizziness: 1.6%; hiccups: 1.5%; bloody sputum: 1.4%; cold shivering: 1.1%; tinnitus: 0.9%; difficulty maintaining a steady depth: 0.9%; disorientation: 0.6%; tiredness: 0.5%; tingling in the limbs: 0.4%; hearing disturbances: 0.4%; a choking sensation: 0.4%; extreme effort: 0.4%; and loss of consciousness: 0.3%.


Environmental factors, light vs. dark and temperature, had no effect on symptoms. The number of symptoms increased with diving time. Divers who experienced amnesia, facial twitching, hearing disturbances (p < 0.001), and disorientation (p < 0.014) were prone to suffer loss of consciousness. It was found that some divers are more sensitive to oxygen than others (p < 0.0001).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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