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Inhalants: Volatile Organic Compounds, Nitrites, and Anesthetics 

Inhalants: Volatile Organic Compounds, Nitrites, and Anesthetics
Inhalants: Volatile Organic Compounds, Nitrites, and Anesthetics

Darius A. Rastegar

and Michael I. Fingerhood

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date: 29 March 2020

Inhalants are a pharmacologically diverse group of substances with a common route of use (“huffing” or “sniffing”). These include volatile organic compounds (fuels, solvents, adhesives, cleaning agents and aerosols), volatile anesthetics (nitrous oxide, ether, halothane, enflurane, and propofol), and nitrites (amyl nitrite and others). Inhalant use is highest among adolescents and declines with age. Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is the most commonly used inhalant, followed by amyl nitrite and organic compounds. The most serious complications associated with their use are encephalopathy with volatile organic compounds, hypoxia with anesthetics, and methemoglobinemia with nitrites. There are few data on the treatment of individuals who use inhalants.

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