oxygen poisoning


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ox·y·gen tox·ic·i·ty

1. a bodily disturbance resulting from breathing high partial pressures of oxygen; characterized by visual and hearing abnormalities, unusual fatigue while breathing, muscular twitching, anxiety, confusion, incoordination, and convulsions; can occur when excessive quantities of oxygen are administered in patients (such as during adult respiratory distress syndrome), resulting in worsening of pulmonary infiltrates and clinical deterioration; although the mechanism for development of the condition is obscure, a disruption of enzymatic activity is likely, perhaps as a result of free radical formation. Compare: retrolental fibroplasia.
2. exposure of the lungs to greater than 60% oxygen for periods exceeding 24-48 hours can lead to severe, irreversible pulmonary fibrosis.
Synonym(s): oxygen poisoning

oxygen poisoning

a hazard of exposure to high ambient pressure (typically in diving) when breathing high percentage oxygen. With 100% oxygen inspired oxygen pressure is ∼100 kPa on the surface at 1 atmosphere, and increases by 100 kPa for every 10 m depth under water. Susceptibility varies between individuals and with the level of physical work, but limits typically advised are ∼150-170 kPa, equivalent to breathing 100% oxygen at depths of 5-7 metres (or proportionately <100% mixed with nitrogen at greater depths). Toxic effects are mainly on the brain (causing epileptic fits) and on the lungs (cough, oedema, impairment of oxygen diffusion). Fits under water can be fatal and the more slowly developing pulmonary toxicity can be irreversible if severe. (Higher pressures than those advised above are safely used to treat decompression illness by 100% oxygen at rest.)
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