Many people may not be aware of the danger of helium gas. Not infrequently, children deliberately inhale to make funny sounds like in cartoons. But did you know that too much helium gas breathing can cause a lack of oxygen supply, pulmonary embolism, and even death.
Helium itself is one of the noble gases that has the lightest element. In addition, this gas has no odor, is colorless and tasteless. Usually, this gas is often used as the main ingredient for filling air balloons, this is due to the nature of helium gas which is lighter than air.
In the medical world, helium gas that has been combined with oxygen is often used to help people with respiratory disorders to make it easier to breathe. Helium gas can also be used as a mixture of inhalation anesthetics used in general anesthesia.
Use of Helium Gas in the Medical World
Apart from the possible health risks, there are benefits of helium gas which can be used to treat patients with certain medical conditions. Usually, helium gas is used to aid breathing in patients with acute asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary dysplasia, or upper airway obstruction. For its use, oxygen needs to be mixed with helium with certain compositions. The result of combining these two compounds is called heliox.
People with COPD have difficulty breathing air normally. Heliox in certain levels can make it easier for patients to breathe, because helium gas plays a role in reducing muscle tension in the respiratory tract, thus making patients breathe easier.
The benefits of helium gas can also be used in surgery as a gas to fill the abdominal cavity, for example in laparoscopic surgery. Research shows that helium gas can be a safe material replacing carbon dioxide gas as a filling gas in the abdominal cavity in surgical procedures.
Avoid Inhaling Helium Gas
Although useful in the medical world, parents should be aware of helium gas abuse which is often used as toys by children. This is to avoid breathing problems that can occur due to inhaling too much helium gas. Parents are advised to give knowledge to children that helium gas should not be inhaled in large quantities or continuously. As mentioned above, breathing in helium gas risks blocking oxygen supply, disrupting the workings of the lungs, and, most severely, can cause death.
Signs of Helium Poisoning
Indiscriminate use of helium gas can have a negative impact on health and cause symptoms of poisoning, especially if used excessively and without supervision from a doctor. Here are some signs of helium poisoning, including:
- Vision loss.
- Hard to breathe.
- Increased pulse.
- Euphoric effects.
- Loss of consciousness.
If these danger signs occur after inhaling helium gas, you should immediately consult a doctor. It could be that this condition is an early sign of helium poisoning. Although often used as a breathing aid for COPD, helium gas has not been included as a treatment tool for sufferers of the condition. The benefits of using helium also have not been supported by strong scientific evidence. So, you need to be aware of the danger of helium gas if inhaled excessively.