Nitrous Oxide

Inhalation sedation, laughing gas, relative analgesia, RA, happy gas, gas and air, nitrous, nitrous oxide, N2O-O2… this one has more names than any other sedation technique! And deservedly so. Inhalation sedation with nitrous oxide (N2O) and oxygen (O2) has been described as “representing the most nearly ‘ideal’ clinical sedative circumstance”…

What Does Nitrous Do?

Physiological effects last a minute or two for a lungful of nitrous and then mainly dissipate. Some residual effects may last up to several minutes later. Unlike other drugs, the effects of nitrous very rapidly recede. As noted in 1845, “Those who inhale the Gas once, are always anxious to inhale it the second time.” When inhaled, nitrous produces a variety of physical effects including:

  • Disorientation (both spatial and time-based)
  • Fixated vision
  • Throbbing or pulsating auditory hallucinations
  • Similarly pulsating visual hallucinations
  • Increased pain threshold
  • Deeper mental connections
  • Lowered vocal pitch (opposite of helium)