Ryan went to a party, where he saw that after inhaling helium, people around him were talking in unrecognizable, high-pitched voice. He was very thrilled and wanted to try it out himself. He tried it and was amused, to hear his own unrecognizable, high-pitched voice, which sounded like various cartoon characters. However, after reading about various reports, that helium can be detrimental to one's health, Ryan's mother is worried about this practice and is now looking out for an answer or solution.
These days, there have been numerous stories of how people have suffocated to death, after inhaling helium. Most of them were really young, between 10 to 16 years of age. Now, people have woken up to the dangers of helium. But what exactly is helium? Well, helium is a chemical element with atomic number 4 and is represented scientifically as 'He'. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas, which heads the noble gas group in the periodic table. The boiling and melting points of helium are lowest among the elements and it exists in gas form only, accept for in extreme conditions. There are many interesting facts about helium, among which one is, after hydrogen, it is the second most abundant element in the universe and accounts for as much as 24% of the elemental mass in the galaxy.
Why Inhaling Helium is Bad for You?
Breathing pure helium deprives the body of oxygen, exactly the way, the body would be deprived of oxygen, if you were to hold your breath. If a person is not able to breathe at all, the person begins to suffocate, and within a few minutes may suffocate to death, as soon as the body has exhausted the supply of oxygen stored in the blood stream. However, this process is intensified, after inhaling helium. When helium gas fills your lungs, it creates diffusion gradient, which washes out oxygen. To explain this in simpler words, with every breath of helium, that one takes, more oxygen is sucked out of the system. It is seen that after inhaling helium, the oxygen levels can plummet to a hazardously low level in a matter of few seconds.
- The mild side effects include headache, sore throat, dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath.
- Most people inhale helium, as they want to change the pitch of their voice. However, this can cause serious damage to the larynx, if too much of helium is inhaled. We hear voices, when our vocal cords vibrate with air. When helium is inhaled, it makes the vibrations much faster and as a result causes a sore throat or worse, permanent voice damage.
- Like previously mentioned, danger of inhaling helium involve depletion of oxygen levels in the body. If the quantity inhaled is not too high, then the person will faint and oxygen will return to the lungs in a few seconds. However, if too much helium is inhaled in a short time, it can result in death.
- According to an article, inhaling helium either too fast or from a pressure tank, can create helium bubbles in the body. This can ultimately cause damage to the lungs and the bubbles can reach the brain, which can result in stroke or death.
All these were the dangers of inhaling helium. It is also natural, that inhaling helium while pregnant can cause harm not only to the mother, but also to the fetus. Hence, it is recommended, that one should stay clear of inhaling helium even for fun purposes, to avoid any health risks.