Slide 1: Q: Use of “whippits” has been associated with what neurologic symptoms?

Slide 2: A: Peripheral neuropathy!

Slide 3: Whippits refer to nitrous oxide (N2O) that is inhaled recreationally. They are commonly acquired from small canisters of pressurized, food-grade N2O designed for use in whipped cream dispensers (hence the name: “whip its”).

Whippits provide users with a quick, short-lived high. Despite the transient nature of the drug’s psychological effects, there are sequelae to long-term whippit use.

Slide 4: Nitrous oxide binds, oxidizes, and inactivates vitamin B12. In patients with heavy and prolonged whippit use (defined in case studies as daily use of 1-20 cartridges for 1-6 months), this can result in functional B12 deficiency, manifesting as macrocytic anemia and peripheral neuropathy.


  • Sharp CW et al. Inhalant Abuse: A Volatile Research Agenda. US Department of Health and Human Services. 1992. Link.
  • Massey TH, Pickersgill TT, J Peall K. Nitrous oxide misuse and vitamin B12 deficiency. BMJ Case Rep. 2016 May 31. PMID 27247211.
  • Shoults K. Case Report: Neurological Complications of Nitrous Oxide Abuse. BCMJ. 2016. 58(4): 192-194. Link.

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