The dangerous effects of laughing gas (aka hippy crack)

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

Hundreds of festival goers were seen at Glastonbury  last month enjoying themselves whilst sucking on a balloon, unknown to the dangerous  side effects.

What is laughing gas?

The scientific name for laughing gas is “nitrous oxide”  which is a colourless gas. It has many street names such as: Nos, hippy crack, n20, happy gas, balloons.

The gas slows down the body’s reaction time and functions as a mild sedative and pain relief, which is why it is often used  alongside oxygen during childbirth and dentist procedures. For the time being there is no penalty for possessing  nitrous oxide, according to the national drug advice site “FRANK”. Although selling  or giving away nitrous oxide on lead to seven years in prison, an unlimited fine or both (under the 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act).

What does it do to you?

Laughing gas creates a euphoric, silly feeling to the person  taking it. This is thought to be the changes to the brain’s blood flow caused  by the nitrous oxide, according to Healthline.

It can cause some short-term  side effects, such as excessive sweating, shivering, nausea, vomiting and  fatigue.

With some feeling light-headed and dizzy after in taking the nitrous oxide. Like many other drugs, the outcome can be fatal if too much is consumed at one given time or over a long period of time.

What are the long-term risks?

Like many other drugs, the outcome of taking laughing  gas can be fatal if you take too much. The laughing gas can starve oxygen to  the brain leading to the user falling unconscious, suffocating from a lack of  oxygen or the effects can lead to brain damage.

If you can count yourself luckily and avoid a fatal outcome, the effects of  regular recreational use of laughing gas can lead to the user being deficient  of vitamin B12 or anaemia. "Severe deficiency can lead to extreme nerve damage,  causing pain, tingling and numbness in the fingers and toes" says FRANK. Continuous  use of laughing gas can lower your immune system to fight off against serious  infections because it prevents the formation of white blood cells properly.

Think before you inhale a party balloon or nitrous oxide canasters!! Don’t feel like you need to fit in with your friendship group or the fact that everyone  you know is doing it so it must be okay. Check:  for more information on laughing gas and other information on other drugs.

* Images are copyrighted to the respectful owner

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