June 14, 2024

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Misuse of Nitrous Oxide May Lead to Severe Permanent Nerve Deficits

Researchers Warn: Misuse of Nitrous Oxide May Lead to Severe Permanent Nerve Deficits



Researchers Warn: Misuse of Nitrous Oxide May Lead to Severe Permanent Nerve Deficits

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas,” is a well-known recreational drug, especially among young people. Its popularity stems from its low cost and easy online accessibility.

However, prolonged use can result in severe neurological issues, primarily stemming from functional vitamin B12 deficiency.

Major symptoms include spinal cord damage, nerve impairment, and behavioral abnormalities. Medical professionals are advised to inquire about the usage of nitrous oxide in patients displaying symptoms indicative of vitamin B12 deficiency.

 

Researchers Warn: Misuse of Nitrous Oxide May Lead to Severe Permanent Nerve Deficits

 

 

Nitrous oxide, colloquially known as “laughing gas,” is not only a popular recreational drug, particularly among young individuals, but it is also commonly used as an anesthetic in pediatric and dental surgeries.

Due to its affordability and easy online availability, many individuals turn to it for a quick high. In the 2021 Global Drug Survey, 10% of respondents globally and 15% of Canadian respondents reported using this substance in the past year.

 

Dr. Cyrille De Halleux, Chief Researcher in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, and an Internal Medicine Specialist in the Department of Pediatrics, Intensive Care, and Inpatient Medicine at SickKids Hospital, noted, “Nitrous oxide is low-cost and easily accessible, making it a popular recreational drug, especially among young people.”

Long-term use of nitrous oxide can result in functional vitamin B12 deficiency, which can have lasting health consequences, particularly on the nervous system.

The three most common toxic presentations include spinal cord damage (myelopathy), nerve damage affecting strength and sensation (neuropathy), and behavioral abnormalities (encephalopathy). Treatment methods include discontinuing the substance, supplementing with vitamin B12, and cysteine.

The authors conclude, “Clinical doctors should inquire about nitrous oxide use in patients with unexplained vitamin B12 deficiency or other relevant neurological symptoms.”

 

 

 

Researchers Warn: Misuse of Nitrous Oxide May Lead to Severe Permanent Nerve Deficits

(source:internet, reference only)


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