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Drugs & Health Blog

Five Things Inhalants Can Do to Your Body

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The NIDA Blog Team

Inhalants are chemicals found in ordinary household or workplace products that people breathe in (inhale) on purpose to get “high.” Examples are glue, gasoline, paint, permanent markers (Sharpies), and aerosol sprays.

Would you drink these products? Of course not; they’re filled with poisons. Then why would you inhale them?

Did you know that inhaling these products’ fumes—even just once—can be very harmful to your brain and body? Here are just five of the problems that inhalants can cause:

  1. A weakened immune system: This can make you more vulnerable to diseases.
  2. Organ damage: Your heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys can be affected.
  3. Brain damage: When used over a long period of time, inhalants can prevent your brain from getting enough oxygen. This can lead to the loss of brain tissue, loss of coordination, loss of hearing or vision, seizures, and limb spasms.
  4. Blackout or coma: You can become unconscious either for a relatively short time (a blackout) or for a long time (coma).
  5. Sudden sniffing death: This can happen in two different ways: (1) the poisons make your heart beat faster than normal and irregularly, and it suddenly stops; or (2) air is blocked from getting into your lungs.

For more about the types of inhalants and the dangers associated with each type, visit our Drug Facts page on inhalants. And check out this Q&A on inhalants from this year’s National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week Chat Day.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Is drinking bleach considered an inhalant, I because if so I've been inhaling a lot.

Certainly you don’t mean you drink bleach---that could easily kill you, or permanently damage your ability to eat and process food. Inhaling bleach is also potentially deadly.

Drugs are bad for you period
Is weed an inhalant? A couple people who live with me smoke a lot in my room. I don't smoke. I do acid. But I'm against marijuana. Is it an inhalant if I smell it a lot? Marijuana could cause brain damage so I don't do it.

There is no scientific evidence at all that “acid” is healthier than marijuana. See our report on hallucinogens. For information on marijuana’s second hand smoke see

Don't do drugs there bad
alot of people use the excuse "i am experamenting" well don't because then you could possibly get hooked on drugs its not good for you and it doesn't effect just you it effects everyone around you too. if you have a friend who does drugs,that includes pills,acids,tobacco,etc. then be there for them untill you can't anymore. I have had people in my life who have had problems with it sometimes being there for them doesn't work so then i have to remove myself from the situation and sometimes not even that works. i do advise that you be humble with the way you settle the problem,never violent because that just makes it worse. best of wishes and goodluck
Wow this has changed my mind on things...
It is crazy that people would inhale these basically poisons and risk their lives. You could die on the spot. I also can’t believe that these everyday products and products that toddlers use could kill you.
It is interesting tgat things that we use everyday can be dangerous, even something like a sharpie. It can even go as far as giving you brain damage and other serious injuries. People have to be more aware of these products and know what they can do to someone.
I find it shocking how people find it okay to inhale a dangerous chemical, yet putting it directly into their body by ingestion is strictly out of the question.
It’s scary how if you only sniff these products once, even on accident, that It could hurt you that badly.
This article is very interesting because it tells you about the simple household objects, such as paint, that can do bad things to you.
I didnt know these things could be so dangerous. Its weird that people still do these things even with such risks
This article is very informative on the effects of inhaling household chemicals and how they can effect your body, especially your vital organs, and cause things like brain damage, seizures , and breathing issues.
Drugs in general are bad for you, especially inhalants because they have poisons in them that can damage your body and could potentially kill you.
I’ve learned that inhalants like glue, computer cleaner, gasoline, and spray paint can damage your body to a great extent. They can mak eyou more vulnerable to diseases, dameage most of your respiratory system, damage your brain, put you into a coma, cut your air supply off to your lungs, and stop your heart.❤️
A weakened immune system, Organ damage, Brain damage, Blackout or coma, Sudden sniffing death
I think it is a good thing that inhalants were brought up in class, as they are so dangerous but not frequently discussed. It is crazy how we all have such easy access to something that can cause organ damage, brain damage, a weakened immune system, death, or blacking out. Last year at a drug presentation, a woman came in to talk about her son who died from sniffing paint the first itme at just age 14. It is truly a shame how much harm these household products can do. We must educate teens about these things because they many not realize how dangerous things they use everyday can be.
You never think that things like bleach, gasoline, glue, etc. can effect you by inhaling it. It's obvious that drinking said things can kill you. I think it's important to know the inhalants and how deadly they can really be. I did learn that inhalants are no joke or laughing matter. It's a serious topic of discussion.
Why would someone inhale poisons? No one I’m their right mind would drink something like gasoline or paint, so why would they inhale it? Don’t do drugs.
Inhalants are bad and you shouldn’t do them. They can hurt your body and your mind and nothing good comes out of doing it. They are sniffing poisons and if they know not to drink it why would they sniff it.
I don’t see why people inhale this stuff because of the harm it causes to them. These items are meant for use around the house or your car, not to be sniffed.
Inhalants can make your immune system weaker , damage organs, damage the brain, be in a coma or black out, or sudden sniffing death. All these things aren't good for your health and can lead to death. When the immune system is weaker you can become sick more easily.
It's a bad thing that the inhalants are so easily accessible and have really bad effects on your body and brain.
This seems more dangerous than anything else we learned about
I think that household products should be made of something else
The companies should have better warnings on these products. Also products shouldn’t contain harmful substances in them like these if they are everyday things you use.
This seems like a drug commercial “blank may cause lung, heart, liver kidney failure also blank may cause brain damage changes in mood or appetite if you experience any of these symptoms stop using blank and call your doctor
I think people are doing it so they can look cool And show off in front of people
My brother died from huffing NOS (Nitrous Oxide) gas. Paramedics said he was dead before he hit the floor. Care more about yourself than this.
Early Saturday morning, I went to a mall with 3 teenage girls. When we parked, I noticed a woman and a man sitting on the curb. I was watching them because I found it awkward to be sitting on a curb at 9:30a.m. The woman was itching her arm. The man was picking on the skin of his leg. She turned to her bag and pulled out a can that seemed to be a tall beverage. They both seemed to be shaking, also. The woman put the can to her lips. I thought she was taking a drink. Until I saw her push a lever or button and take a deep breath in. She gave her companion the can. Immediately, we switched parking space. This made me SAD and MAD at the same time. I had mixed emotions for this couple. I think they had been awake all night and morning. Probably homeless and unemployed. Yes, it is the choices we make. However, they are so hooked on this inhalants that they don't care who is watching or where they get their body what it is demanding. TEENAGERS: Experimenting leads to dependency! I do NOT want to see you in the future shaking uncontrollably and scratching your skin because your body can't stand being without inhalants. PLEASE.
My son was thirteen of aerosols abuse. I was missing many of my deodorants and he told me it was because he was spraying it on himself and his bending because it reminded him of me when I had to pop out and because he was worried I would have an acciden t in my car and not come home. He was desperate for me to believe him as in the passed due to being bullied at school, no one believed him. I found him dead with a deodorant close by. I think he had been doing this for some time without me knowing. It's been six weeks since his death on 13th June, 2019 and I am still finding empty aerosols hidden around the house. The way I found him and what I tried to do to resuscitate him even though I knew he had gone, will be with me for as long as I live. There should be more advice for children and parents to look out for. I had never heard of aerosol abuse until this happened to us.

Please accept our deepest condolences on your son’s death. We understand how devastating this is for you and your family as you navigate this new journey. We admire your willingness to share your story with us and we will continue to do our best to educate parents and children about the risks and consequences of using inhalants.

There are some incredibly sad stories here, and hopefully sharing them will give some comfort and maybe help others avoid similar things happening. With this in mind, my 13 year old ADHD boy has just come home with cracked and bleeding lips at 9pm after being out with his “mates” all day. Does anyone have any ideas what may have caused this as he was OK when he left at 3pm. Thanks in anticipation. P

Thank you for reaching out. We recommend that you contact your son’s doctor’s office and explain your concerns to them.

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