Nitrogen narcosis is a reversible alteration in consciousness that occurs while deep-depth diving. This condition typically occurs in free-divers at depths less than 100 feet and in helmet divers at depths closer to 200 feet. Thankfully, nitrogen narcosis can be completely reversed (with no long-term effects) by simply ascending to shallower depths.
Since diving is quite dangerous and can be fatal if severe narcosis comes into play, it’s important that divers are fully aware of how to prevent nitrogen narcosis. Here are some tips to avoid nitrogen narcosis while diving:
- Be well-rested — Divers should never dive after a poor night of sleep. Fatigue can greatly accentuate nitrogen narcosis, so make sure you’re well-rested prior to any deep dive.
- Take a deep diving course — Learning from a qualified diving instructor will help you better understand the warning signs of narcosis and know how to deal with it with confidence.
- Use quality underwater equipment — The freediving gear you’re wearing matters significantly when diving deep into bodies of water. If you’re constantly worried about the underwater equipment you have while you’re diving, you’re not going to be as aware of potential narcosis symptoms developing.
- Stick to your dive plan — Prior to any dive, outline your exact depth, route, and timing and stick to it as close as possible. Planning and sticking to a dive plan can help you stay out of trouble underwater and will help you have a level-head even as potential narcosis is coming on.
- If there is ever a doubt, ascend — Ascending even a few feet should clear your head and remove all symptoms of nitrogen narcosis. So if you’re nervous or believe you’re experiencing anything related to narcosis, simply ascend a few feet and gather your bearings.
Make sure you’re fully aware of your health and your surroundings during every dive you make. The key to preventing nitrogen narcosis is educating yourself and purchasing high quality underwater equipment. Stay safe out there and enjoy your dive!