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Mrs_Dr_Frank_N_Furter's avatar

What are the side-effects of sucking helium?

Asked by Mrs_Dr_Frank_N_Furter (582 points ) June 15th, 2008

Besides like headaches, killing off brain cells, and talking cool, what are the side-effects of sucking in like 10 helium ballons?

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11 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Talking like Donald Duck.

marinelife's avatar

It’s not a good thing:

Inhaling Helium From A Balloon

“A little-known aspect of inhaling helium is how quickly you may lose consciousness due to asphyxia (oxygen deprivation). During the exchange of gases in the normal breathing process, the blood stream absorbs oxygen from air in the lungs, while carbon dioxide passes from the blood to the air. When you hold your breath, the exchange of gases slows, as “stale” air in the lungs is no longer replaced by “fresh” air.

This process does not stop instantly, however. Some time will pass before you start to experience serious physical distress. For example, you would likely have time to pick up and put down an object, walk across a room, or find a chair and sit down before feeling compelled to breathe again.

However, when the lungs are filled with helium, a different process takes over. Oxygen is actually removed from the blood stream during the exchange of gases. Depending on how completely oxygen is replaced by helium, you may lose consciousness quickly and without warning—you may literally pass out while still standing. The usual result is an uncontrolled fall that can cause serious injury, even if normal breathing resumes before brain damage occurs due to lack of oxygen. ”

Allie's avatar

Marina: Woah, I guess I’m lucky nothing like that ever happened to me.

My friends and I used to suck in the helium from our birthday balloons whenever one of us had a birthday. I remember on one of our 18th birthdays, we bought 18 balloons and sucked in all the helium. We couldn’t say anything without laughing and then we’d laugh more because our laughs sounded so ridiculous. Good, fun times (but probably not so healthy).

playthebanjo's avatar

you’re all lucky you didn’t float away!

shilolo's avatar

Interestingly, helium mixed with oxygen (Heliox) or helium mixed with oxygen and nitrogen (Trimix) are used in medicine and deep sea diving. In medicine, heliox is used to reduce airway resistance while in deep sea diving both heliox and trimix are used to prevent nitrogen narcosis.

Mrs_Dr_Frank_N_Furter's avatar

oh my goodness. I must say that I do not understand what the heck you just said

Sakata's avatar

Fun voice alteration games…

Get a can of helium and a can of compressed air (found at any office supply store, Wal-Mart, Radio Shack, etc…) Then go to town. Remember though moderation is the key because, well, you could technically die if you go overboard.

P.S. I wouldn’t advise doing the “air” drunk.

loupgarous's avatar

@Sakata – Your “Fun voice alteration games” are a BAD IDEA. A helium balloon can contain enough helium to cause someone to pass out. Just think how much MORE helium is in one of those canisters from Wal-Mart. And it SUCKS oxygen from the blood stream when inhaled, so that a big drag of helium under canister pressure can much more efficiently de-oxygenate someone whose body may not be able to handle it – and die.

Moderation doesn’t EXIST in a bunch of people who have hypoxic brains due to helium inhalation – you’ve just set up the conditions for a suicide party with your advice, dude.

aturtlefreak's avatar

you are all very stupid if you are sucking in anything (besides air) that is not natural like helium and caned air. my sister always wants to suck the helium out of balloons and today she blacked out and turned purple (almost passing out) do to lack of oxygen. and as far as canned air goes it will kill you. i know a girl who was driving with a friend in the car and they thought it would be fun to suck on canned air. she literally froze her lungs and it killed her instantly making the car wreck and putting her friend in ICU. its not fun or cool to play around with that stuff. its just as bad as doing any drug. think about all of your family and friends and how they would feel if they lost you. don’t be stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sakata's avatar

In the interest of safety I feel the need to inform the kids of one important fact about sucking canned air (formerly known as “whip-its.”)

Don’t turn the can upside down. That’s how you get a big mouth/lung-full of CO2 that sub-zero in temperature. If you’re really rebellious and don’t believe me that’s fine just flip the can over and give it a couple of test shots in the air. Aim it at something and watch the ice form instantly.

Thank you for your time and don’t die.

“There’s a difference between fucking off and fucking up.” – Sakata

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