What Are the Dangers of Inhaling Helium Balloons?

We all know that inhaling a little bit of helium from a balloon will cause our voices to sound at a higher pitch. It's funny and we get a laugh, but there are more serious concerns when inhaling helium. It can be something small, like dizziness, or something big, like death.

Helium ballons float because they are lighter than oxygen.
Helium ballons float because they are lighter than oxygen. (Ballons am Himmel image by Jens Hilberger from Fotolia.com)
Mild Symptoms

According to Lenntech, some of the mild symptoms from inhaling helium are headaches, sore throats, dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath.

Headache.
Headache. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)
Vocal Cords

The reason most people inhale helium is to change the pitch of their voice. However, helium can do serious damage to your larynx if used too much. Our voices work when our vocal cords vibrate with air. Helium makes that vibration much faster and as a result causes a sore throat or worse, permanent voice damage.

Helium makes that vibration much faster and as a result causes a sore throat or worse, permanent voice damage.
Helium makes that vibration much faster and as a result causes a sore throat or worse, permanent voice damage. (Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)
Lack of Oxygen

One of the biggest problems of inhaling helium balloons is the lack of oxygen. Slate's "Is it dangerous to inhale helium?" explains that when you inhale helium, you aren't getting oxygen and ultimately cannot breath. The majority of incidents result in fainting. Oxygen will return to your lungs quickly and you should wake up in a matter of minutes. If you inhale too much helium in a short time, it can result in death.

When you inhale helium, you are not getting enough oxygen.
When you inhale helium, you are not getting enough oxygen. (Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)
Helium Bubbles

An article on the Kidz World website, "How Helium Works," informs us that inhaling helium too fast or from a pressure tank can create helium bubbles in your body. This causes damage to your lungs, and the bubbles can get into your brain through your arteries. The results are bad, resulting in stroke or even death.

Inhaling helium too fast or from a pressure tank can create helium bubbles in your body.
Inhaling helium too fast or from a pressure tank can create helium bubbles in your body. (Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images)
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