According to doctors at an east London hospital, they are seeing so many potentially dangerous cases of laughing gas abuse that they have created treatment recommendations for their British counterparts.
One of the drugs that 16 to 24 year olds use the most frequently is nitrous oxide, which is sold in metal canisters.
A vitamin deficiency brought on by prolonged use can harm the spinal cord's nerves.
Medical personnel must be alert, according to the Royal London Hospital team.
Nearly every week, they have been seeing a new case.
These patients arrive with symptoms that are nerve-related, including the inability to walk, falling over, and tingling or loss of sensation in their hands and feet.
Others experience incontinence or bladder or bowel issues that are nerve-related. .
Importantly, very few NHS employees speak of using nitrous oxide.
According to Prof. Alastair Noyce, a consultant neurologist at Queen Mary University of London, the young patients they are seeing are teenagers and adults in their twenties.
"The severity is what stands out right now. Over the past year or so, we have noticed this increase. ".
He suggested that this might be related to people using large gas cylinders, which can hold an amount comparable to 60 or 70 of the small silver canisters that are often seen strewn about in parks and on streets.
"If you have been using and you start experiencing symptoms, stop using it right away and get help as soon as you can," he advised.
By interfering with the metabolism of vitamin B12, the medication has the potential to harm the nervous system. This harms a layer of protection on nerves, usually those at the back of the spine.
By quickly treating the vitamin B12 deficiency with vitamin injections, permanent harm can be avoided.
The Association of British Neurologists has approved the guidelines, which were created with input from specialists in Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, and Queen Mary University of London. They advise doctors on what to look for and how to treat certain conditions.
- Your brain and your body's reactions are slowed down by nitrous oxide.
- Too much can cause you to pass out, become unconscious, or become suffocated.
- Nerve damage can also result from repeated heavy use.
- Direct inhalation of the gas from the canister is extremely risky because it is extremely cold and pressurized, which can harm the throat and lungs, cause breathing to stop, or cause the heart to slow.
- It may also result in fleeting but strong paranoia.
Because of health concerns, the government in England and Wales is considering a ban on use and sales.
The Netherlands was the first nation to outlaw its use, doing so in January.
According to authorities, the gas is still suitable for use as an anesthetic in medicine and in the food industry as a propellant in the production of whipped cream.
After losing her son Jon after he used butane, another type of volatile gas, Emma Cain has been warning young people about the risks associated with substance inhalation.
After inhaling the lighter gas, Jon suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away in 2011 at the age of 17.
She stated, "I'm just one person, trying to stop people from doing it, and if that means I have to stop them on the street, I will do that," in an interview with the BBC in October.
"I'll warn them that doing so is risky and that they are playing with death. ".
At the age of 18, Londoner Kerry-Anne Donaldson, now 26 years old, began using laughing gas canisters, primarily at gatherings.
Kerry-Anne was critically ill the first time she ended up in the hospital, but she continued to use it "to chase the first high I felt.".
Last year, she was unable to walk due to her legs, hands, and feet becoming progressively numb and tingly.
The damage was still present, she claims, even though she had stopped doing them at age 24.
She claims she can now stand and move around her apartment, but she is unable to walk to the store.
"My advice to others would be to refrain from doing them because they are not worthwhile.
"At the very least, educate yourself and be aware of the harm it can do. I disregarded her advice and kept my behavior hidden from my friends, she claims.
In 2023, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is anticipated to make a recommendation regarding the criminalization of nitrous oxide.
The use of nitrous oxide for recreational purposes carries a sizable risk, according to Prof. Tom Warner, president of the Association of British Neurologists.
These crucial clinical practice recommendations explain how to identify, identify, diagnose, and most importantly treat those who visit emergency rooms. and stop neurological disability over the long term," he said.