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

Staff and volunteers at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea were disappointed by the theft of an educational porpoise skull likely taken on Jan. 8. (Courtesy of Tina Kelly)
Well-loved porpoise skull stolen from Sidney aquarium

Skull had been used for youth and visitor education and outreach for years

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

The Starbucks in Langford’s Westshore Town Centre is one of almost 300 storefronts that the U.S. coffee giant will be shutting across Canada by the end of March. (Google Maps)
Langford’s Westshore Town Centre Starbucks to close permanently

Popular coffee chain to close 300 storefronts across Canada by end of March

An Oak Bay Police officer handed out five tickets for “fail to obey stop sign” and two tickets for using a cell phone while driving, all within two hours at King George Terrace on Jan. 11. (Oak Bay Police Twitter)
Man confronts unmasked group at Oak Bay Marina

Oak Bay police issue plenty of tickets in short King George Terrace visit

A senior official with Victoria International Airport says the airport is still researching COVID-19 testing regimes but predicts testing and screening will remain part of the aviation industry even after vaccines have rolled out. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria International Airport researching COVID-19 testing options

Senior official predicts ‘screening and testing will be around long after the vaccination rollout’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Most Read