The medical applications of nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, has different applications in the hospital. Inhalation of nitrous oxide results in its absorption via lung diffusion and exhalation via breathing. Half of the gas’s concentration in the atmosphere is lost every 5 minutes. In humans, less than 0.004% of it is digested, and the rest is expelled in the lungs, basically unaltered.

Although it can be used as a local anesthetic, it is not powerful enough to be utilized as a general anesthetic on its own. It can be used in conjunction with oxygen and other more potent general inhalational gases to induce a deep state of unconsciousness during surgery. It is used as a single agent (in conjunction with oxygen) for partial sedation in dentistry, typically on younger patients. Below is an in-depth discussion.


A Role of Nitrous Oxide in the ER

Nitrous oxide (often known as “laughing gas”) is a very safe medication that may be administered to children in the Emergency Department to ease their discomfort during painful or upsetting treatments.

In the Emergency Room, nitrous oxide is a quick and painless solution to alleviate anxiety and discomfort induced by brief operations. While the effects of nitrous oxide take a few minutes to kick in, they fade just as quickly after you cease breathing in the gas. The effects will begin to fade as soon as the gas is turned off.

It can be used as general anesthesia in addition to other aesthetics.

When inhaled, nitrous oxide has a minimal anesthetic effect. Since a concentration of 105% in the alveoli is required to induce general anesthesia when nitrous oxide is the only anesthetic agent utilized, it is inefficient for usage in this setting. For this reason, nitrous oxide for sale is typically combined with other inhalational anesthetics to achieve general anesthesia.

To induce general anesthesia with a mask in young patients, nitrous oxide is frequently used. It is administered via mask inhalation with oxygen and escalating dosages of a more potent inhalational anesthetic (such as sevoflurane).


Nitrous oxide is used in dentistry to lessen patients’ perceptions of pain and stress during operations. A nasal mask often administers it with oxygen. While the dentist works on the patient’s mouth, the patient breathes in a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen through a nasal mask that completely covers the nose.

Amnesia, reduced pain, lowered anxiety, and improved compliance is just some of the benefits of nitrous oxide that pediatric dentists frequently provide their younger patients.

Dental patients in their adult years may have anxiety, low pain tolerance, underlying psychological illnesses, or mental retardation as causes for concern.

For individuals with overactive gag reflexes or during lengthy or complex dental operations, nitrous oxide may be helpful.

Other uses include:

Additional, less common applications include colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy, laser procedures, obstetrical labor discomfort, ophthalmic applications, emergency medical care for patients in accidents and during ambulance transport, minor invasive medical procedures like joint injections, and more.

Nitrous oxide self-administration for terminally sick and cancer patients has been documented, but relatively rarely.

Using nitrous gas has significantly reduced pain levels, allowing for a shorter recovery time in children undergoing basic procedures like lumbar puncture, venous cannulation, or dressing changes. [8, 9] Nitrous oxide helped calm the kids down so they could better tolerate their medical procedures.

Young children getting injections for juvenile arthritis have benefited from nitrous oxide. In addition, nitrous oxide has been used effectively as an anesthetic for kids requiring minor procedures like cyst surgery and abscess drainage.

In conclusion, nitrous oxide can be used for various reasons in the hospital, but mainly to reduce pain, minimize anxiety, and also for women in labor.