Severe spine damage caused from laughing gas misuse

Medical experts from an East London hospital have issued treatment guidelines for doctors in the UK to assist people involved with laughing gas misuse.

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as ‘laughing gas’, is one of the most commonly used drugs by 16-24 year olds and if used too much, it can lead to a vitamin deficiency that damages nerves in the spinal cord.woman in black long sleeve shirt with yellow mask

Recently hospitals have seen more admissions due to young people using too much laughing gas which has led to medics from the Royal London Hospital team stating staff must remain alert. The hospital has been witnessing one new case every week.

Patients admitted to hospital have been suffering with nerve-related symptoms which include being unable to walk, falling over or experiencing tingling or loss of sensation in their feet and hands.

In addition to this, some people have also complained of nerve-related bowel or bladder problems.

Professor Alastair Noyce, a Consultant Neurologist at Queen Mary University of London told BBC News: ‘These are young people we are seeing – teenagers and people in their 20s.

‘What’s striking now is the severity. We’ve seen that increase over the last 12 months or so.’

Professor Noyce claimed more people may be using laughing gas as it has become easier to access large cylinders of it which can contain around 60 or 70 of the small silver canisters that can be seen scattered on streets and in parks.

In an attempt to reverse the effects of the drug, medics have been advised to give patients vitamin injections that contain B12 – laughing gas can damage the nervous system by interfering with the metabolism of the vitamin; particularly targeting the nerves in the rear spine – to help prevent permanent damage.

Professor Tom Warner, president of the Association of British Neurologists, said using nitrous oxide recreationally carries a significant risk.

Professor Warner claimed: ‘These important clinical practice guidelines lay out how to recognise, diagnose and most importantly, treat those people attending emergency departments…and prevent long-term neurological disability’.

Photo by Jackson Simmer


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