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Chapter 23: The Respiratory System

Terms in this set (53)

because of its low solubility at sea level pressure (solubility is the ability of a gas to dissolve in a liquid), as total air pressure increases, the partial pressures of all gases in the air mixture increase; when a SCUBA diver breathes air under high pressure (pressure increases greatly with increasing depth away from sea level), the nitrogen in the mixture can have serious negative effects; because the partial pressure of nitrogen is higher in a mixture of compressed air than in air at sea level pressure, a considerable amount of nitrogen dissolves in plasma and interstitial fluids; excessive amounts of dissolved nitrogen may produce symptoms similar to alcohol intoxication, a condition called nitrogen narcosis; the depth at which this occurs depends on the individual SCUBA diver but generally this occurs when a SCUBA diver goes below 100 ft; risk factors for developing nitrogen narcosis are thermal cold, stress, heavy work, fatigue, and carbon dioxide retention; the feeling can continue after the diver surfaces; if a diver comes to the surface slowly, the dissolved nitrogen can be eliminated by exhaling it; safe SCUBA diver practice is to always include a "safety stop" upon ascent; this means staying at 15 ft below the surface for a minimum of 3min on the way up prior to surfacing; this allows time for slow elimination of the dissolved nitrogen; however, if the ascent is too rapid (and pressure decreases rapidly), nitrogen comes out of solution and forms nitrogen bubbles in tissues (like opening a pop can), this condition is called decompression sickness; bubbles typically develop in the joints first, producing severe pain, and afflicted individuals tend to curl up; can also cause stroke or pulmonary embolism; a sudden loss of cabin pressure in an aircraft at high altitude can also produce symptoms of decompression sickness