According to the National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC), by the time a child has reached eighth grade, one out of every five has used an inhalant to get high. Unbeknownst to most parents, the inhalation or sniffing of everyday products among children and adolescents is growing. While illegal substances are often at the center of discussions on the dangers of substance abuse, inhalant abuse is an issue that also needs to be addressed both in schools and at home.
“Cheap to obtain and easy to hide, children often use inhalants because they are accessible,” explains Jonathan King, DO, an osteopathic surgeon from Bradenton, Fla.
While parents may be familiar with the most common inhalants, such as paint and glue, there are many more substances that also pose a risk.
“Computer keyboard cleaner, nail polish remover, felt tip markers, air freshener, and even cooking spray are all dangerous inhalants,” says Dr. King. “In fact, there are more than 1,000 products on the market today that can prove deadly when inhaled.”
Inhalants are absorbed through the lungs and pass through the bloodstream to the brain as well as other organs. Once inhaled, an inhalant can reach the brain in seconds, where its vapors then react with fatty tissue in the brain, literally dissolving it. Within minutes, the user can experience a high with symptoms similar to those produced by drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana.
“Unlike other intoxicants, inhalants produce a short-lived high, and may leave their users irritable and depressed when the high wears off,” explains Dr. King. He adds that inhalants are both physically and psychologically addicting. Therefore, chronic users often suffer withdrawal symptoms.
The greatest risk inherent to inhalant use is Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome, which occurs when there is a sudden and unexpected disturbance of the heart's rhythm.
“Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome can be caused by the use of any inhalant, even for first-time users, and it can cause instantaneous death without warning,” explains Dr. King. The use of inhalants can also cause damage to the heart, kidney, brain, liver, and bone marrow.
Thus, it is important to be able to tell if a child is abusing inhalants. Some telltale signs of use are weight loss, muscle weakness, disorientation, inattentiveness, lack of coordination, irritability, and depression. If a child is showing any signs of these symptoms, then it may be time to have a talk or seek the help of a health care professional.
“Inhalant use can start as early as elementary school,” warns Dr. King. “Thus, it is imperative that parents talk to their children at an early age.”
“Stressing the importance of getting oxygen to the brain and discussing the negative effects that an inhalant’s toxins can have on the brain’s ability to function and the rest of the body is the best way to approach the topic,” he says.
Parents can find more information on how to educate their children about inhalants and prevent inhalant use at the NIPC’s Web site, www.inhalants.org.
“Education is the key to prevention,” says Dr. King. “Parents should be making sure their children’s schools are taking the necessary measures to teach children about the toxic consequences of inhalant use and continue that education at home.”
Preventive medicine is just one aspect of care osteopathic physicians (DOs) provide. DOs are fully licensed to prescribe medicine and practice in all specialty areas, including surgery. DOs are trained to consider the health of the whole person and use their hands to help diagnose and treat their patients.
- The Truth on Juice Fasts
- Dr. Eric Milie discusses pneumonia and its symptoms and risk factors
- How to Beat Heat Rash
- Celiac Disease: Living a Gluten-Free Life
- What to Expect When You're Expecting: Managing Severe Morning Sickness
- The Real Harm in High Heels
- Living a Full Life with Fibromyalgia
- Hearing Loss and Headphones – Is Anyone Listening?
- LECOM joins AHRQ Partnership in national health improvement initiative
- Stock up on Fruit for the Winter
- Back-to-School Backpack Safety
- Sorting Out Seasonal Allergies
- Adult Sports - How to Gain with No Pain
- Time for a Flu Shot
- What to Know about Nosebleeds
- Microwaves and Plastics: How to Safely Re-Heat Your Leftovers
- Should Your Child be Vaccinated?
- The Raw Facts About Raw Milk
- Parents Can Prevent Inhalant Use in Children
- Dietary Supplements: The Health Benefits of Pumping Up Your Diet
- Don't Lose Sleep Over Night Sweats
- Winter Brings Chance of Hypothermia
- Be Cautious for the Flu Season
- The Benefits of Eating Breakfast at Dinner
- Managing Migraines
- The Dangers of Distracted Driving
- Living with Diabetes
- Is Your Doctor a D.O. or a M.D.?
- Living Healthy at Any Age
- Shoveling Your Way to Lower Back Pain
- Holiday Gatherings: Perfect Time to Share Family Health History
- Halloween Tricks for Consuming Fewer Treats
- Injuries: To Ice or To Heat?
- The Dangers of Dehydration
- Fitness on the Go
- Exercise for Your Bone Health
- Muscle Cramp - A Common Pain
- A New Year's REsolution to Benefit the Whole Family
- Don’t Hibernate: How to Stay Active and Safe in the Winter Cold
- Battling Boredom in Your Workout
- Bone Up on Osteoporosis
- An Unwanted Rosy Complexion: Rosacea
- Living in Fear: Anxiety Disorders
- At First Flutter: Recognizing an Irregular Heart Rhythm
- Food Allergies: Avoiding a Holiday Hazard
- Matters of the Mind: Keeping Your Mind Fit
- Eye Strain at Work: See the Signs
- Don't Forget About Your Eyes This Winter