We all have those moments where we are in the grocery store and can’t remember if we needed to buy eggs or not. Our brain is our most important asset, but it’s also an organ that needs proper care to keep functioning properly.
The question “does helium kill brain cells?” has been posed on various medical forums and blogs with the answer being mixed. It turns out there isn’t a clear consensus on whether or not breathing pure helium does any damage to your brain cells, but many experts believe that it doesn’t do any good either.
Did you know that helium is the second most abundant element in our universe? It’s also a colorless, odorless, non-toxic gas. As a result of its high atomic weight and low reactivity to other elements, it’s usually found as an inert component of air or natural gas.
I also have a very interesting post pertaining to the age old myth that we only use ten percent of our brain potential. You may be surprised at what you learn in that post…may be worth a read if you’re the curious type.
What does Helium do to Your Voice?
Have you ever noticed that when you inhale helium, your voice gets high pitched? What exactly is happening inside of our bodies and how does it affect the sound of our voices?
It turns out that when helium is inhaled, it attaches to the vocal cords. This causes them to vibrate at a higher frequency and make their pitch go up.
For a more in-depth explanation of what exactly happens to your vocal cords when you inhale helium, check out this great post Why Does Helium Affect Your Voice?
Is it safe to inhale helium from a balloon?
Helium is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that can cause suffocation if breathed in high concentrations.
You probably think if you inhale helium from a balloon that it would just make your voice sound like a chipmunk. Well, I’m here to tell you that it may actually not be safe at all. In fact, there are many dangers associated with inhaling the gas.
You may have heard that inhaling helium is harmless and even a good party trick. However, there are some dangers associated with this “high-pitched” gas. Inhaling helium can lead to brain damage due to lack of oxygen in the blood stream. The body needs oxygen to function properly so when it doesn’t get enough, the cells start dying off which leads to organ failure and eventually death. Though rare, cases of people passing out after using helium as a party gag has been reported in hospitals all over the country.
Side Effects of Inhaling Helium
Inhaling helium can lead to dizziness, headaches and shortness of breath. The gas is also a potent asphyxiant which means that it reduces the oxygen available in your lungs.
Helium is not toxic, but inhaling it at high pressures or for long periods can be dangerous because the changes in air density caused by the gas make it more difficult to breathe and may cause lung damage.
The effects of inhaling helium are temporary though, usually lasting only 10-15 minutes before normal breathing resumes. If you feel lightheaded after having inhaled helium, stop using the balloon immediately and seek medical attention if needed.
Conclusion – Does Helium Kill Brain Cells?
So with all things considered, inhaling helium from a balloon can be quite amusing and fun in a party setting. But use caution, scientists and medical experts have differing opinions as to whether or not it actually kills brain cells. Even though inhaling helium has been linked to suffocation and even death in a few special cases, these may have been cases of extreme over use. However I am not a medical doctor or scientists, just giving my view after some research on the subject.
If you have any urgent concerns about inhaling helium from balloons, or fear someone you know may have had a bad reaction to this “fun” activity, please consult a doctor.