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

The second of two massive hydro-electric turbines headed to the Site C Dam project near Fort St. John sits in Prince Rupert ready for the Jan. 27 trek across the province. The load is so large and heavy it needs counterweights on the 120 ft transport truck and trailer (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Second of two giant turbines and multi-vehicle convoy hit the road to Site C Dam

Massive turbine load from Prince Rupert needs one truck pulling it and two trucks to push it

Hays Creek in Prince Rupert requires more than $1.5 million to repair the creek and walls built in the 1950s and 1960s, Prince Rupert City Council heard on Jan. 25. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert City Council briefs:

More than $1.5 million needed to restore Hays Creek in Prince Rupert

Staff at Acropolis Manor, a Prince Rupert long-term health care facility in April 2020 where no cases of COVID-19 were reported until an outbreak on Jan. 19, 2021. As of Jan. 25th, 32 people associated with the residence have tested positive for the virus. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Staff at Acropolis Manor a Prince Rupert long term health care facility, take pride in their work place that no COVID-19 cases have been reported in the facility during the pandemic.This photo taken, April 20, from outside, looking through a window shows staff adhering to strict protocols and best practices to keep residents happy and healthy. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
COVID-19 numbers increase at Acropolis Manor – 32 infected

Prince Rupert man concerned about temp. staff from out of region working at long-term care facility

Ken Veldman vice president, public affairs and sustainability, at Prince Port Port Authority on Jan. 21 addressed local employers in an online presentation about a new community recruitment program to attract employees to Prince Rupert. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
New recruitment campaign to be launched in Prince Rupert

Web platform will use community collaboration to attract new employees to Prince Rupert

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read