Merck Manual

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Volatile Nitrites

By

Gerald F. O’Malley

, DO, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center;


Rika O’Malley

, MD, Grand Strand Medical Center

Full review/revision Dec 2022
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Nitrites (amyl, butyl, or isobutyl nitrite) are sold with street names such as "poppers," "Locker Room," and "Rush."

People use these drugs because they believe that they enhance sexual pleasure by producing a sense of excitement and euphoria. These drugs briefly lower blood pressure, produce dizziness, and cause flushing, followed by a rapid heartbeat. When used with sildenafil (used to treat erectile dysfunction Erectile Dysfunction (ED) Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to attain or sustain an erection satisfactory for sexual intercourse. (See also Overview of Sexual Dysfunction in Men.) Every man occasionally has... read more ), these nitrite drugs may greatly lower blood pressure, which can cause fainting, heart attack, or stroke. Nitrites can also cause methemoglobinemia, which is a blood disorder that interferes with the ability of the blood to carry oxygen.

More Information

The following English-language resources may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.

  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Federal agency that supports scientific research into drug use and its consequences and supplies information about commonly used drugs, research priorities and progress, clinical resources, and grant and funding opportunities.

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): US Department of Health agency that leads public health efforts to improve behavioral health and provides resources, including treatment locators, toll-free helplines, practitioner training tools, statistics, and publications on a variety of substance-related topics.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
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