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The Dangerous Effects Inhaling Laughing Gas Balloons Can Have On Your Body

Joe Harker

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The Dangerous Effects Inhaling Laughing Gas Balloons Can Have On Your Body

It's festival season, which means thousands of Brits will be pitching tents in muddy fields and hoping it doesn't rain on them while they enjoy performances from some of the biggest artists in the world.

It also means a lot of those festival goers will be getting their hands on those little metal canisters you can see discarded everywhere from city streets to country lanes.

What's in the canisters is laughing gas – also known as nitrous oxide – and it has quickly become one of the most popular drugs in the country among younger generations.

The gas is usually released from the canisters into balloons, where it then gets inhaled to produce a feeling of being high.

However, inhaling laughing gas has dangerous effects on your body and can even kill you.

Laughing gas is stored in those little metal canisters you can find littered everywhere. Credit: Alamy
Laughing gas is stored in those little metal canisters you can find littered everywhere. Credit: Alamy

According to Frank, short term effects beyond the initial high after inhaling the gas can occur especially if a person inhales too quickly or takes too much of it.

Laughing gas can make you feel tired, dizzy or sick, while it can also give you a headache or leave your brain feeling scrambled for a bit, which can lead to stupid decision making which puts you in harm's way.

Long term effects for regular users include anaemia and a deficiency of vitamin B12, which can lead to nerve damage and cause difficulty walking.

It can also stop your white blood cells from forming properly, meaning your immune system will get weaker and leave you much more vulnerable to disease.

Nitrous oxide is also a very dangerous drug to mix with alcohol as the impaired decision making that comes with both can be a recipe for disaster.

The greatest risks come from inhaling nitrous oxide right out of the canister, especially in an enclosed space, and taking too much can make you fall unconscious or even die from suffocation.

The high pressure burst of gas right out of the canister can cause your throat muscles to spasm and stop you breathing.

Festivals across the UK will be littered with the leftover laughing gas cannisters. Credit: Alamy
Festivals across the UK will be littered with the leftover laughing gas cannisters. Credit: Alamy

According to the Office for National Statistics, laughing gas is now the second-most popular drug among 16 to 24-year-olds behind cannabis.

A 16-year-old nearly died at this year's Manchester Parklife festival after taking laughing gas which ruptured his lung.

Alex Littler was rushed to hospital after complaining that his chest felt like 'popping bubble wrap', with doctors telling him he was lucky to be alive.

Beyond the health risks posed to your body by laughing gas, the environmental impact it can have is also severe.

Cleanup teams will be tasked with the painstaking job of to recovering thousands of metal canisters from the aftermath of festivals.

Meanwhile, local wildlife can get sick or die from swallowing the discarded balloons the gas is inhaled from.

If you want friendly, confidential advice about drugs, you can talk to FRANK. You can call 0300 123 6600, text 82111 or contact through their website 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, or livechat from 2pm-6pm any day of the week 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Drugs, Festivals

Joe Harker
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