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Inhaled doses of 5 to 10 drops of amyl nitrite (amyl nitrite inhalant) may cause violent flushing of the face, accompanied by a feeling of imminent bursting of the head and very excessive heart action. The inhalation of larger amounts may produce a feeling of suffocation and muscular weakness. Symptoms comparable to shock may be produced (such as weakness, restlessness, sweating, pallor, nausea, vomiting, syncope and incontinence) attributable to pooling of blood in the post arteriolar vessels and failure of the venous blood to return to the heart.
Measures which facilitate venous return such as head-low posture, deep breathing and movement of extremities may be used. The use of epinephrine aggravates the shocklike reaction. Methylene blue should be injected for treatment of severe methemoglobinemia with dyspnea. For treating cyanide poisoning, methylene blue is contraindicated where nitrites cause iatrogenic methemoglobinemia.
Since it may increase intraocular and intracranial pressures, amyl nitrite (amyl nitrite inhalant) is contraindicated or should be used with great caution in patients with glaucoma, recent head trauma or cerebral hemorrhage.
Amyl nitrite (amyl nitrite inhalant) can cause harm to the fetus when it is administered to a pregnant woman because it significantly reduces systemic blood pressure and blood flow on the maternal side of the placenta.
Last reviewed on RxList: 9/25/2008
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Additional Amyl Nitrite Information
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