Nitrous oxide is used in medical and dental settings for sedation and pain, but some teens and young adults inhale it from small canisters known as whippits to get high. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

B.C. doctor warns of inhaling non-medical nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, in recent case

A Richmond doctor says a 20-year-old woman came into his care suffering visual, auditory hallucinations

An emergency room physician in Richmond has issued a warning of risks linked to inhaling nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas.

Nitrous oxide is used in medical and dental settings for sedation and pain, but some teens and young adults inhale it from small canisters known as “whippits” to get high.

A statement from Vancouver Coastal Health says Dr. Matthew Kwok has seen patients at Richmond Hospital who have inhaled the gas and suffered drug-induced psychosis and neurological effects.

“People become addicted to this drug, and its non-medical use can be extremely dangerous,” Kwok said.

In the latest publication for BC Medical Journal, Kwow outlined the case of a 20-year-old woman with no history of psychiatric or medical illness before suffering from visual and auditory hallucinations. She admitted to using nitrous oxide daily, Kwok said, and had recently increased her dosage.

But when Kwok and his medical team went to report the case to a federal agency, they discovered there is not tracking of such overdoses in the country.

“This is a commercially available product that can cause serious adverse health effects, yet there isn’t a proper reporting mechanism that adequately reflects the magnitude of the potential toxicity,” Kwok said.

“Our research shows very few reported cases, in part because the nitrous oxide comes from a product marketed for whipping cream and an adverse report would only be accepted if the canister itself was faulty.”

Kwok is calling for the government to create restrictions on accessing nitrous oxide canisters. He also wants to see more awareness among the public and within the medical industry of the outcomes from inhaling non-medical laughing gas.

“When people present at the emergency department with unexplained neurological symptoms it’s important for clinicians to consider nitrous oxide as a possible cause,” Kwok added.

”It’s also important for users to know that using this product outside a supervised medical setting can cause serious health effects.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Everyone should be aware of the Labour Day movement

My hat is off to Tyson Whitney for his article on Labour Day.

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

BC Timber Sales’ operations on the North Island and Central Coast to be audited

The Forest Practices Board randomly chose the region to check for compliance to legislation

Transformative ‘Centre of Hope’ coming to Port Hardy

With the new building, the Salvation Army will be able to run the shelter year long.

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Majority needed to pass COVID-19 budget, B.C. premier says

John Horgan pushes urgent care centres in first campaign stop

Nanaimo RCMP shut down illegal racing and stunt driving site

Police “swoop in” to seize vehicles and issue violation tickets

Public health officials urge Canadians to limit contacts again as COVID-19 cases rise

Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies

Most Read