Death caused by addictive inhalation of nitrous oxide

Hum Exp Toxicol. 2011 Nov;30(11):1875-7. doi: 10.1177/0960327111401437. Epub 2011 Mar 10.


Intoxications with nitrous oxide have been, and still are, a rarity in forensic medicine. Apart from accidental overdose during hospital procedures, intoxication with this gas is the result of voluntary inhalation. We report the fatal case of a 32-year-old male who died during inhalation of nitrous oxide from whipped dairy cream cans and hint on the role of the internet in creating new behaviors among drug addicts. We rely on the autopsy report from the Department of Forensic Medicine, Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, on laboratory tests, and court files. Neither the autopsy nor the toxicologic and histopathologic tests disclosed the exact cause of death. However, circumstances in which the body was discovered were indicative that death resulted from cardiorespiratory failure. The present case is interesting with regard to its rarity, diagnostic difficulties and potential harm from nitrous oxide used by the food industry.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / poisoning*
  • Dairy Products
  • Drug Overdose
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Food Additives
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitrous Oxide / poisoning*


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Food Additives
  • Nitrous Oxide