It’s no laughing matter for an Australian college student who inhaled a staggering amount of nitrous oxide.
The unidentified woman in her 20s developed severe nerve damage to her spinal cord after inhaling 360 canisters of the laughing gas, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Monday.
Doctors are trying to rehabilitate the woman with the hope that she could learn how to walk again, according to the news outlet.
Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is used as a party drug that produces an intense, but short-lived high when inhaled through the mouth.
The chemical compound can be huffed out of canisters known as “whip-its” or whipped cream containers.
“Very recently I had a 20-year-old patient whose brain appeared to have the same level of damage as an alcoholic who had been drinking for 40 years as a result of inhaling nitrous oxide,” said Dr. Andrew Dawson, a toxicologist at the Westmead Hospital’s Poisons Information Centre in New South Wales.
Dawson noted that the number of nitrous oxide-related cases has risen at an alarming rate.
“We have had a doubling of the number of calls from hospitals about significantly affected people from nitrous oxide exposure,” Dawson said, according to the news outlet. “Those effects are severe nerve injury, or sometimes brain injury…There has been a real spike over the last two years.”
Deaths from the use of nitrous oxide are seemingly rare in Australia, but they have been reported, Dawson said.
“Those deaths can relate to anything from the exploding of the small cylinders, to people becoming hypoxic — that is, short of oxygen, from overuse,” he said.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corp., there have been two recorded deaths in Australia from the recreational use of nitrous oxide since 2010.
Source: NY Post (Natalie Musumeci)
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