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)

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

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lake Cowichan’s town hall is now locked. Members of the public can only enter by knocking or by phoning and making an appointment. (File photo)
$1.16-million in COVID cash granted to Lake Cowichan

Pandemic protocol locks town hall doors

The Downtown Duncan BIA had this 12-foot Christmas bulb assembled in Duncan's City Square as part of its modified Christmas kick-off celebrations this year. (Amanda Vance photo)
Business notes: Downtown Duncan BIA kicking off Christmas differently this year

Find out what’s happening in Cowichan’s business community

North Cowichan councillor Christopher Justice wants to see rare habitats protected in the municipality. (File photo)
North Cowichan wants rare ecosystems to be a priority in OCP

But some council members want public input into decision

The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary is taking a pro-active approach and closing the thrift shop as a precautionary measure as of Saturday. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop closing again as a precautionary measure

Second closure this year will last at least six weeks due to the COVID situation

The Santa’s Workshop fundraiser being put on by Camosun students on Dec. 5, 2020, will benefit Providence Farm. (Submitted)
Camosun students harness spirit holiday season with Providence Farm fundraiser

The next event, coming up on Dec. 5, is a virtual “Day in Santa’s Workshop”

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

Most Read