Physiologic and perceptual responses to hypercarbia during warm- and cold-water immersion

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Physiologic and perceptual responses to hypercarbia during warm- and cold-water immersion

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Title: Physiologic and perceptual responses to hypercarbia during warm- and cold-water immersion
Author: Fothergill, DM; Taylor, WF; Hyde, DE
Abstract: Thermoregulatory, respiratory, and perceptual responses to acute CO2 exposure during light exercise (75 W) were assessed in 12 U.S. Navy divers clad only in swim trunks while immersed to the neck in water at 18 degrees and 34 degrees C. The CO2 exposures consisted of a linear 10-min ramp increase in the inspired fraction of CO2 (FICO2) from 0 to 6% followed by 5 min of breathing 6% CO2. The ability to detect and rate the severity of hypercarbia, as well as subjective changes in thermal comfort, were assessed by comparing subjective ratings given during the CO2 exposures with those given during immersion trials where the FICO2 was maintained at 0%. Hypercarbia was recognized earlier and, at a given PETCO2, was perceived to be greater during cold- than during warm-water immersions (P < 0.01). The CO2 exposures did not affect the thermal balance of divers as assessed by changes in heat flux and rectal temperature. However, increased feelings of warmth were reported during both the cold and warm immersions when breathing raised concentrations of CO2 (P < 0.01). During the cold immersions, acute exposure to 6% CO2 significantly decreased forearm blood flow (P < 0.05), but did not affect finger blood flow. It is concluded that PETCO2 levels can reach unacceptably high concentrations (> 60 mmHg) before hypercarbia can be reliably detected by working divers. Furthermore, the ability to detect hypercarbia is poorer when immersed in warm water than when in cold water.
Description: Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc. (http://www.uhms.org )
URI: PMID: 9566081
http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/2293
Date: 1998

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