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You inhale helium from a balloon, and almost as if by magic, you sound like a cartoon chipmunk. Harmless as it may seem, though, inhaling helium can be dangerous — deadly, in fact. There are numerous case reports of serious injury and even death caused by helium inhalation. When you inhale helium, it displaces oxygen. This means that as you inhale, your body is only getting helium. Oxygen plays a role in every function of your body. Many of the risks are the same as with other inhalants.
Typically, inhaling a single breath of helium from a balloon will have the desired, voice-altering effect. It might also cause a bit of dizziness. There have been news reports of some folks, particularly young children, dying from asphyxiation after inhaling helium from a balloon.
The majority of serious health issues and deaths related to helium inhalation involve inhaling helium from a pressurized tank. These are the same tanks used to fill helium balloons at events or party supply stores. Tanks not only hold a lot more helium than your everyday party balloon, but they also release the helium with much more force.
The more pure helium you inhale, the longer your body is without crucial oxygen. Breathing in pure helium can cause death by asphyxiation in just minutes. Inhaling helium from a pressurized tank can also cause a gas or air embolismwhich is a bubble that becomes trapped in a blood vessel, blocking it. The blood vessels can rupture and hemorrhage. Have a seat, breathe normally, and wait it out. If you or someone else experiences any of the following after inhaling helium, call right away:. That said, you should definitely avoid giant balloons and pressurized tanks.
A one-off breath of helium from a small balloon for a laugh is unlikely to be catastrophic, but it can cause dizziness and make you pass out.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. These common misconceptions about sleep can harm your health by keeping you from getting quality zzzz. Feeling dizzy? Read on to learn about how to get rid of dizziness and what may be causing it.
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Treatments for Dizziness.
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Stay out of that balloon!