Merck Manual

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Volatile Nitrites


Gerald F. O’Malley

, DO, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center;

Rika O’Malley

, MD, Grand Strand Medical Center

Reviewed/Revised Dec 2022
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Nitrites, such as amyl, butyl, or isobutyl nitrite (poppers, sold with street names such as "Locker Room" and "Rush"), may be inhaled to enhance sexual pleasure. Nitrite-containing liquids may also be ingested with resultant symptoms.

There is little evidence of significant risk, although nitrites and nitrates cause vasodilation, with brief hypotension, dizziness, and flushing, followed by reflex tachycardia (see table Symptoms and Treatment of Specific Poisons Symptoms and Treatment of Specific Poisons Symptoms and Treatment of Specific Poisons ). Nitrites may cause methemoglobinemia. However, they are dangerous when combined with phosphodiesterase-inhibiting drugs used for erectile enhancement Drugs for erectile dysfunction Erectile dysfunction is the inability to attain or sustain an erection satisfactory for sexual intercourse. Most erectile dysfunction is related to vascular, neurologic, psychologic, and hormonal... read more ; the combination can lead to severe hypotension and death.

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NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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