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CO2 buildup - Cause, Effects and Solutions

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Teamcasa, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. Teamcasa

    Teamcasa Sr. Moderator Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Near Pasadena, CA
    This issue was brought up in another thread but I think it needs to be posted here as well.

    Also from that thread:

  2. lowviz

    lowviz Solo Diver ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Northern Delaware or the New Jersey Turnpike
    Newbie OW training headaches are another good sign that you are breathing incorrectly.
  3. Cave Diver

    Cave Diver Divemaster Staff Member

    CO2 is thought to be a contributor to "Darc Narc." This is a type of narcosis that gives you a feeling of dread, doom, overall malaise. I've experienced this feeling during an exit in a cave that I'd dove many times.

    Unrecognized and untreated I can see how it could easily build up and lead to feelings of claustrophobia and panic.

    As others stated, long, full exhales are key to getting breathing under control and dispelling the effects of it.

    I've also had a headache that I attributed to CO2 buildup. As someone that used to get migraines, I have to say the CO2 headache ranks as one of the worst I've had and there was no relief from it until it wore off.
  4. Bubbletrubble

    Bubbletrubble Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Seussville
    This review article written by Dr. Johnny Brian, Jr., (Associate Professor, Univ. of Iowa) might be of some interest to people. It's entitled "Carbon Dioxide, Narcosis and Diving." Enjoy.
  5. CamG

    CamG Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Geneva Indiana
    Greetings Teamcasa and this is a great thread that would be very useful on the new divers forum as well. The breathing control and or regaining control is priceless. It is right on the money the big exhales allows the built up C02 to escape this is a practice that I have had to implement twice thus far in my time diving. Once at 120' and 137'. The post dive break down was very valuable, over stressed due to junk fins and slightly over weighted. Both were easy to correct but allowed for C02 to build up. Both times I closed my eyes and gained breathing control by using the big exhale method. I find it easier to relax when I breath long in and long out even a little past the all out phase.
    This would be a really great addition to the new diver forum because it goes hand and hand to getting the point of normal breathing patterns under water nailed down.
    Good material and that is what makes Scuba Board awesome!
    CamG Keep diving....keep training....keep learning!
  6. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many.

    # of Dives:
    Location: Woodinville, WA
    There are a lot of different things that contribute to CO2 retention. Excessive exertion at depth can definitely do it -- I've come out of Ginnie Springs several times sick as a dog from overworking. A poorly adjusted regulator can do it -- a friend bought a new reg, and dove it, and couldn't figure out why she always felt as though she couldn't breathe, and ended the dive with a headache. Turned out the cracking pressure on her second stage was three times what it should have been.

    Diving the wrong mix contributes, too -- gas density at depth begins to play a significant role in alveolar ventilation. I'm not sure whether I like helium as much as I do because of nitrogen narcosis, or because it reduces CO2, but the difference, even at 130 feet, is night and day.
  7. B.L. Justice

    B.L. Justice Divemaster Candidate

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: So Cal
    This is a great thread. I have had that OOA feeling at depth a couple of times. I have overcome it by slowing down and trying to focus on a simple task. Until reading these entries, I didn't realize that CO2 had that big an effect.

    I wonder if doing some deep breathing to purge CO2 before dropping down would help to reduce the build up? Anyone have any thoughts on this?
  8. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many.

    # of Dives:
    Location: Woodinville, WA
    No -- deep breathing before diving would lower your CO2 for a minute or so, perhaps, but certainly within five minutes, you'd be equilibrated again.

    ROMO DIVER Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Mobile, AL
    I am a little confused here (it might be excessive CO2 levels) but I would like to know where the idea that hyperventilation causes an increase in CO2 levels comes from. Every medical book I have ever read states that hyperventilation actually decreases levels. Even Dr. Brian's excellent article states this and nowhere mentions that CO2 levels are increased by hyperventilation. While CO2 buildup can initiate hyperventilation it is not the other way around. If I am missing something please edumacate me.
  10. Scott L

    Scott L Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: North Palm Beach, FL
    This is were I break ranks with the High Springs boys. In recreation dives under 130ft while not using using HE I am maximizing FO to a PPO of 1.60 as I feel a heck of lot better at the end of the dive as a consequence. Team concept is not broken down completely as my dive partners are also using the same mix as I fill their cylinders after dive sites are selected and dive planning is complete...Often time when hunting with gusto gas is the limiting factor on such dives which results in less nitrogen loading and consequently greater conservatisim. Please don't tell on me...:)
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2009

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