How Inhalants Act on the Brain
All inhalants are absorbed through the lungs and spread throughout the body and brain within minutes. With the exception of nitrates, inhalant use produces an effect similar to alcohol intoxication. The inhalant user may have slurred speech, experience euphoria and act dizzy or drunk. Intoxication from inhalant use lasts only a few minutes.
To prolong intoxication, users often engage in repetitive huffing. This is a particularly dangerous practice that can be fatal.
Sudden Sniffing Death and Inhalant Use
One of the most serious health complications associated with inhalant use is sudden sniffing death. Huffing or sniffing inhalants for long periods slowly fills the lungs with the inhalants and prevents the inhalant user from getting sufficient oxygen in the lungs. This results in the sudden onset of heart irregularities, which quickly worsen into heart failure.
Death from sudden sniffing death occurs within minutes. The condition is not confined to chronic inhalant users. People trying huffing or inhalant use for the first time are just as susceptible to sudden sniffing death as are long-term abusers.
Inhalant Use Health Risks
Long-term inhalant use can produce strong cravings and compulsive huffing. Withdrawal symptoms may develop when inhalant use is interrupted.
Other health concerns associated with long-term huffing and inhalant use include:
apathy and stupor
brain and nervous system damage
damage to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys
death by choking (from inhaling vomit)
death by suffocation (from bagging or huffing)
fetal developmental problems if the inhalant user is pregnant
hearing and vision problems
impaired cognitive function
loss of coordination
nausea and vomiting
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