Effects Of Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas) In The Human Body

Nitrous Oxide
Nitrous Oxide in Balloons (Freepix)

Drug abuse in recent times has metamorphosed to a pandemic in Nigeria. Adequate precautionary measures need to be taken to protect the general populace from the scourge. Many young and old people are in the habit of abusing drugs and substances that are harmful to the human body.

The list of abused drugs and substances in Nigeria is endless, but the most recent emerging trend, is the abuse of nitrous oxide, popularly known as laughing gas.

Some people abuse nitrous oxide by purchasing canisters of nitrous oxide and transferring same into a balloon, which they inhale for euphoric effects.

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is a colorless and odorless gas that has several applications, including anesthesia, analgesia, and recreational use. While it is generally considered safe when used appropriately in medical settings, there are potential side effects associated with its use.

Here are some common side effects of nitrous oxide in the human body:

  1. Nausea and vomiting: Nitrous oxide can cause feelings of nausea and may lead to vomiting, particularly if administered at high concentrations or for extended periods.
  2. Dizziness and lightheadedness: The abuse of laughing gas can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and a sense of disorientation. However, these effects are usually temporary and resolve once the administration of nitrous oxide is discontinued.
  3. Headache: This substance can also sometimes trigger headaches, especially when used at high concentrations or when administered for prolonged periods.
  4. Fatigue and drowsiness: A recent post from the MedicalNewsToday has shown that Nitrous oxide can induce feelings of fatigue and drowsiness, which can persist when abused.
  5. Inadequate vitamin B12 absorption: Research has revealed that prolonged or repeated exposure to nitrous oxide can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B12 in the body. This can lead to a deficiency in vitamin B12, which may cause various neurological symptoms over time.
  6. Potential for abuse: Nitrous oxide has the potential for recreational abuse due to its euphoric effects. Frequent and prolonged abuse can lead to more severe complications.

Although the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has swung into action to curb this menace by ordering an immediate clampdown on illegal sale and use of nitrous oxide. However, It is important to note that the side effects mentioned above are typically associated with improper or prolonged use of nitrous oxide without a medical reason.

In conclusion, nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, affects the human body in various ways. It acts on the central nervous system, providing analgesic and euphoric effects through interactions with neurotransmitter systems. Nitrous oxide also impacts the respiratory system, potentially leading to hypoxia if not used appropriately. Additionally, it influences the cardiovascular system, causing peripheral vasodilation and a decrease in blood pressure. While nitrous oxide can be safe when used in controlled medical settings, prolonged or excessive use can lead to adverse effects and complications. Understanding the effects of nitrous oxide is essential for its responsible use and ensuring the well-being of individuals who may come into contact with it.

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