Recently, the media have reported on the increase in the sale of nitrous oxide balloons, better known as laughing gas, to the young people while they make a bottle. They consume it by mixing it with alcohol without being aware of the risks it may pose to their health.
Nitrous oxide is a colorless gas that is used for sedation, for example when general anesthesia is applied, and pain control in operating rooms or delivery rooms.
Therefore, we are talking about an anesthetic drug that when inhaled produces one of the following effects:
These effects are directly associated with the gas inhalation, so they disappear immediately in about 3-5 minutes after stopping it.
However, and as with all available drugs, its use is exclusively restricted to medical prescription, since it can carry serious risks, some cases of sudden death have even been described.
Sedation used in dentistry
Among the professionals who use this type of sedation are dentists. Dr. Óscar Castro Reino, president of the General Council of Dentists, explains that “in dental clinics it is used, fundamentally, for not too long interventions in patients who do not control or poorly control their degree of anxiety (odontophobia)”.
«It is classified within the group of anesthetics, although it is usually used in lower concentrations mixed with oxygen. In this way, the patient is not put to sleep, and he can continue to collaborate without feeling pain or remembering anything from that period due to its amnesic effect, “explains Castro.
Also, this drug cannot be administered by just anyone. Health professionals who use it, including dentists, must receive specific training on its proper use, indications, contraindications, as well as on the measures to be taken in the event of complications.
In fact, some Autonomous Communities have express regulations on the use of this gas.
And, as Dr. Castro explains, “the use of nitrous oxide must be preceded by a prior analysis of the health status of the person who is going to receive it, their age, their weight, the possible association with other drugs or drugs In patients with serious respiratory problems, some cardiovascular pathologies or certain personality traits, the use of this drug may be contraindicated ”.
Among the risks, heart attack
The General Council of Dentists insists that the use of any drug that it has not been prescribed by a healthcare professional carries risks that are added to those of the drug itself.
Some of the most extreme dangers of misuse are:
If we add the dangerous game of mixing it with alcohol and drugs to the risks of irresponsible consumption of nitrous oxide, the result can be catastrophic. And it is that this mixture produces a disinhibition and a loss of the sense of risk, which can be very expensive.
«The increase in self-consumption by young people and adolescents should be considered a serious public health problem. In the United Kingdom, for example, they have already registered 35 deaths due to the misuse of nitrous oxide. It is urgent, therefore, to take action on this dangerous fashion, “concludes Dr. Castro.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.