IQWiG warns of brain and nerve damage

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Cologne – Nitrous oxide (nitrous oxide) is becoming increasingly popular as a party drug among young people. It’s cheap, easy to obtain – and most of all, it’s not prohibited. According to surveys carried out in individual cities and other European countries, between ten and 20 percent of teenagers and young adults have tried laughing gas at least once.

The Institute for Health Care Quality and Efficiency (IQWiG) now has the most important scientifically proven discoveries about the trendy drug in one place. Brief information collected.

Nitrous oxide is usually sold in small cartridges and is typically used to froth whipped cream. To consume it as medicine, the cartridges are opened with special devices and the gas is then placed in balloons and inhaled from them.

This alters the reaction and metabolism of nerve cells. In the brain, this quickly leads to feelings of euphoria and relaxation when you inhale. Furthermore, the perception of the environment and time changes briefly.

Many people laugh or laugh. After a few minutes the effect wears off. Acute laughing gas poisoning is rare. When someone needs medical treatment, it is usually because they injured themselves while drunk. Deaths are also the exception.

“However, the ‘legal equals harmless’ calculation doesn’t work here,” warned Andreas Berger-Waltering from IQWiG’s health information department. “There are many indications that laughing gas is harmful.” There is currently little research into the long-term health effects of laughing gas, but one thing is certain: anyone who inhales it frequently and for a long period of time runs the risk of causing harm to their body. brain and nerves.

One reason: Nitrous oxide inhibits the use of vitamin B12, which is taken in with food, in the blood and in nerve cells. Vitamin B12 plays an important role in nerve development and blood formation.

Typical symptoms of nerve damage initially include tingling or a pins-and-needles sensation in the hands, arms, or legs. Additionally, symptoms of paralysis may occur.

Damage to the nerves in the spinal cord can cause problems with walking. It is still unclear how often these symptoms occur and how they disappear again. © hil/sb/aerzteblatt.de

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