Laughing gas misuse can potentially lead to serious spine damage, doctors at an east London hospital have warned.
Usually sold in metal canisters, nitrous oxide is a popular drug among 'teenagers and people in their 20s', and medics say they are witnessing new cases almost every week.
Patients are coming into hospital, being unable to walk, due to nerve-related damage.
Some users are struggling to even stand up because they are loosing feeling in their feet, reports BBC News.
Doctors also say that patients are reporting bowel problems or incontinence.
"What's striking now is the severity. We've seen that increase over the last 12 months or so," Prof Alastair Noyce, a consultant neurologist at Queen Mary University of London, told the publication.
"If you have been using and you develop symptoms, stop using it immediately and seek medical help as soon as possible."
Kerry Donaldson, from Newham, Greater London, started inhaling nitrous oxide in 2017, with her usage quickly escalating into three-day binges that would leave her vomiting for days.
After a series of trips to the hospital due to numbness in her hands and legs, in January 2022, Kerry was told by doctors that her habit had led to a disc bulge in her lower back, leaving her unable to walk.
Kerry is now dependent on her family for round-the-clock care and uses a wheelchair to get around.
Six months on from her diagnosis, Kerry sharing her story in a bid to raise awareness about the dangers of nitrous oxide.
"I was doing it [balloons] on-and-off, usually at the weekends," she recalled. "It was the social thing, everybody was doing it.
"I didn't really understand the damage that it could cause. I just thought it was a bit of fun, I didn't think it would harm me. I was uneducated on the subject."
Kerry hopes to share her story on social media, adding: "I want to go into schools and colleges to speak to young people and educate them. I want to go to universities too, as I know balloons are used a lot there.
"There needs to be a lot more education regarding nitrous oxide use. I don't think a lot of people know about the potential effects.
"A lot of people think it's just a bit of fun and it can't do any harm to your body. I'm constantly in pain, but I've gotten used to the pain. I don't even remember how it feels not to have pain."