Can You Die From Sniffing Nail Polish?

Teens sniffing nail polish to get intoxicated or "high" is nothing new. They have been doing this for just about as long as nail polish has been on the market. When I was a teen myself there were a group of girls who would do this at a bus stop each morning while we were all waiting for the bus to take us to school. Needless to stay, a few of these girls in our school who would do this became very sick and were hospitalized as a result.

When this happens, it's known as nail polish poisoning but can go by other names such as inhalant abuse or injury. Because of incidents like this all across the world, many schools, both public and private, have banned students from wearing or bringing nail polish and nail polish remover to school. So there's no question as to whether inhalation of these substances can be toxic or harm you. But many people wonder if it can actually kill you.

The truth is, while it's very rare, you can die from sniffing nail polish or nail polish remover and it has happened many times in the past. Plus, even if you don't die, there can still be many permanent effects as a result of huffing these types of products. So here's the truth about this dangerous trend that continues to claim teenage victims every year.

Why is Inhaling Nail Polish Dangerous?
Inhaling nail polish and nail polish remover is very dangerous because they contain toxic chemicals that greatly affect a person's body in both physical effects on the organs, as well as the body's ability to supply oxygen to the brain. Many teens have died over the years from abusing inhalants.

Why Are Teens Most At Risk?
Inhalation abuse, including nail polish sniffing, is probably more common amongst teenagers for a number of different reasons, which when combined create a situation where they are more likely to make poor decisions.

Reason #1
One reason may be that many adults have grown up and have seen some of their peers get sick or hospitalized as a result and know better than to do that. They are less experimental and may value life more or may be more aware of the risks involved.

Teenagers often want to experiment with things even when they may know there is a high risk of being injured or dying involved. For some, this helps add to the excitement of it because it may make them feel cool because they are taking risks and breaking rules.

Reason #2
Another reason is because the adult brain is much more developed than the teenage brain. As we get into our 20's, our brains begin to fill out more and develop more completely. During a person's teen years, their brains are not fully grown in and this is especially true when it comes to the frontal lobe, which contributes to the decision-making process.

So many teens may choose to make poor decisions because they are not as well-equipped to handle things mentally and maturely.

In 2010 the results from an ongoing study that was funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and carried out by researchers at the University of Michigan shows that younger teens are more likely to abuse inhalants when compared to older teens.

The study found that around 10.1% of children in the 8th grade had abused inhalants at least one time within the past year. This number decreased amongst those in the 10th grade, who had around a 5.6% rate of abuse. This amount was even further reduced when surveying teens in the 12th grade who were reported as having a 1.5% abuse rate.

So there are two main possibilities that could probably explain why the percentage decreases each year as teens get older.

The most probable explanation is that kids become smarter as they mature towards adulthood and become more aware of the risks involved in doing dangerous or risky things. Another possibility is that those who were willing to try inhalants, may have already tried it an early age so there is less people who haven't tried it by the 12th grade who are willing to try it. But the first explanation is probably the more logical one.

Either way, it's clear that even if the latter explanation were true, the amount of those who are willing to repeat this type of abuse decreases as well. So those who are willing to try it at a younger age must either become aware of the risks of abusing inhalants and nail polish, or they become smarter, or they simply have no interest in it for whatever reason as they get older.

What to Do if You Suspect Poisoning
If you or someone you know has intentionally abused inhalants or accidentally breathed them, such as in a small contained space, then you should seek medical attention or professional advice immediately.

Poison Control Hotline
The first thing you should do if you or the person who abused inhalant are still conscious and able to think clearly, is call the Poison Control Hotline, which most countries like the USA have set up in case of emergency poisonings. The Poison Control employees can give you legit advice on what to do and let you know if the amount ingested or inhaled requires a trip to the emergency room or a call to 911.

Call 911 if Symptoms Are Present

But if the person who abused the inhalant is feeling symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, trouble breathing, loss of coordination, vision problems, nausea or any other symptoms that seem serious or out of the ordinary, then you should probably call 911 immediately instead of Poison Control.

If it really is a dire emergency then you don't want to waste time calling Poison Control because they may just end up telling you to call 911 or they may call 911 themselves if they really think it's an emergency, and seconds or minutes could be lost while you're trying to call them initially.

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