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Emergency Medical Minute


Jun 19, 2019

Author: Sam Killian, MD

Educational Pearls:

  • Abuse occurs by breathing in volatile substances such as solvents, glues, paints, butane, and propane
  • Inhalants are generally depressants
  • Estimated that 100-125 people die every year in the US from acute inhalant abuse.
  • Short-term effects include memory impairment, slurred speech, diplopia, seizures, and cardiac arrhythmias
  • Long term effects include renal dysfunction, neuropathy, blindness and cognitive blunting
  • Evaluation includes a detailed lung exam, cardiac monitoring, and assessments of oxygenation and renal function
  • Treatment is generally supportive. 


Lipari RN. Understanding Adolescent Inhalant Use. 2013;. Review. PubMed PMID: 28722849.

Howard MO, Bowen SE, Garland EL, Perron BE, Vaughn MG. Inhalant use and inhalant use disorders in the United States. Addict Sci Clin Pract.2011 Jul;6(1):18-31. Review. PubMed PMID: 22003419; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3188822.

Summarized by Will Dewispelaere, MS4 | Edited by Erik Verzemnieks, MD