Overview of Poppers: Side Effects and Dangers

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What are poppers?

Poppers is a common slang term for a range of chemical psychoactive drugs known as alkyl nitrites, and in particular, amyl nitrite inhaled drugs. Poppers are usually sold in small bottles and are often marketed as room fresheners or deodorants, although they are not used for that purpose. They have a strong solvent smell. You should never taste or swallow poppers as this can be fatal.

When inhaled, poppers lead to instant highs that include symptoms such as increased heart rate, dizziness, and feelings of euphoria.

Verywell / Cindy Chung

The most common type of poppers inhaler is amyl nitrite. It is often confused with amyl nitrate, which is, in fact, another chemical with a similar name, often misspelled as amil nitrate. Poppers are also known as liquid gold, butyl nitrite, heart medicine, and room deodorizer.

This article discusses what poppers are, how they are used, and what they do. It also includes some of the side effects the substances can cause and whether poppers are addictive.

How are poppers used?

The term “poppers” first began to be used for these drugs in the 1960s, when amyl nitrite, then used as a heart medication, was sold as broken capsules. , or “popped”, to release the chemical.

Although not commonly prescribed, it is still sometimes used today to treat pain caused by angina attacks. It works by increasing the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart.

Never try to treat a real or imagined heart problem with poppers, unless prescribed by your doctor.

While alkyl nitrites themselves are legal, selling them over the counter to humans is not. As a result, these products are often sold as “room deodorants” or “leather cleaners,” even though they are not effective or really intended for those purposes.

Use narcotic

Although rarely used today for heart problems, amyl nitrite has been used to treat cyanide poisoning. On the other hand, Poppers are widely used as an aphrodisiac, especially by gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. Poppers are usually made as smoke that is inhaled directly from small bottles.

Poppers are cheap and easy to buy, often sold as a room deodorizer or as an aphrodisiac in sex shops, although their use carries significant risks. With short, potent effects lasting only seconds to minutes, poppers are often used as an adjunct to other designer drugs, such as acid (LSD) and ecstasy (MDMA). People often use poppers with the expectation of an immediate “fever” or a strong sense of relaxation, dizziness, euphoria, mood lift, and intoxication.

Use population

Amyl nitrite was first synthesized in 1844 by Antoine Jérôme Balard and popularized as a treatment for angina by Sir Thomas Lauder Brunton. It was recognized as a recreational drug in the 1960s, initially in the gay community.

Gay men have found that poppers help them feel mentally and physically comfortable, increase sexual arousal, make anal sex easier and less painful, and enhance orgasm. These drugs are still widely used among gay men.

According to SAMHSA’s 2015–2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it is estimated that while only 3.3% of the US adult population has ever used poppers, about 35% of male homosexuals have used poppers. masculinity used. While the use of drugs such as meth, ecstasy, and ketamine declined in the 2000s, use of poppers and cocaine remained stable among gay men.

The use of poppers as a psychoactive drug spread from the gay community to the wider recreational drug community, becoming more popular with the disco boom of the 1970s and clubs. and rave scene of the 1980s and 1990s. Its use has been recognized as a serious health problem in the Aboriginal Canadian community but transcends social classes.

For example, a study of British medical students from 1998 found that 12.8% of male medical students and 6.3% of female medical students used poppers as a recreational drug. In addition, there has been concern about the recent increase in the use of inhalers, including poppers, among adolescents.


Poppers are prescription drugs that were originally created to treat heart conditions, but are today mainly used as recreational drugs.

The Poppers . Effect

Poppers act very quickly, producing an almost instant sensation of heat or “pulsation” of heat and a feeling of dizziness, similar to the feeling of extreme drunkenness. The effects occur very quickly after inhaling the drug, but unlike drugs such as alcohol, last only a few seconds or minutes. While some people find the effects of poppers very pleasant, others find it extremely disorienting and upsetting.

Poppers are vasodilators, which means they dilate blood vessels. As a result, blood pressure drops rapidly, leading to lightheadedness and sometimes to a short-term loss of consciousness and muscle strength, known as syncope. At the same time, the heart beats faster, even when the poppers user is relaxed; this is called tachycardia.

Another effect of these drugs is to relax the anal sphincter. For this reason, poppers are sometimes used to facilitate anal sex. Additionally, some users find that using poppers during sex increases sexual sensations and enhances orgasms.


  • Vasodilation with a feeling of warmth

  • Low blood pressure accompanied by dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting

  • Tachycardia (fast heartbeat)

  • Relaxation of the anal sphincter

Side Effects

  • Skin lesions around the nose or lips

  • Sinusitis and respiratory allergic reactions

  • Headache

  • Increased intraocular pressure


Poppers produce an almost instant high consisting of a feeling of euphoria and a feeling of warmth. Because they relax smooth muscle, poppers are sometimes used to facilitate anal sex.

Poppers side effects

There are several negative effects associated with poppers. Poppers have the potential to lead to a variety of skin irritation around poppers exposed areas, such as the nose, mouth, lips, and face. They can be misdiagnosed as impetigo or serious seborrheic dermatitis. These skin problems usually heal within seven to 10 days of stopping sunscreen use.

Poppers are also quite annoying and can cause sinusitis. They can also cause allergic reactions with wheezing and difficulty breathing. Since poppers can be scented, an allergic reaction can also be triggered by inhaling the fragrance in the poppers.

Headaches can be frequent, and can range from mild to severe. Poppers have been reported to contribute to eye damage in some individuals.

Can you be addicted to Poppers?

There is no evidence that the use of poppers leads to physical or psychological addiction. However, frequent and heavy use can lead to tolerance to the substance, which means you will have to inhale more of the substance to reach the same high levels. Fatal overdose is rare, but inhaling large doses can lead to unconsciousness, low blood pressure, or cardiovascular problems.

Poppers can be dangerous and potentially fatal when used at the same time as medications prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).

A very good word

Poppers appear to be a safe, inexpensive, and resonant drug with easy accessibility and short-term effectiveness. However, like other psychoactive drugs, they can be harmful. The safest choice is to avoid poppers altogether.

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