In this section
Nitrous oxide is an anaesthetic gas. It can be given to your
child to breath during a procedure to help reduce any discomfort
they have and to help them to feel calm. It has been safely used
for patients of many ages in dental clinics, during child birth and
in Emergency Departments for several years. It is often
referred to as 'laughing gas'.
Nitrous oxide helps most children feel drowsy and relaxed within
a few minutes. In most cases, using it means a necessary procedure
can be completed with minimal discomfort or distress to your
It will involve a specially trained doctor or nurse putting a
mask directly onto your child's face which will cover their nose
and mouth. This can be a little frightening, especially for younger
children. However, once the gas takes effect, most children do not
mind it being there. It can be useful to let the child see and
touch the mask or practice breathing with the mask before the gas
is turned on. Your child may also like to choose a smell to be put
inside the mask (e.g. chocolate essence).
It is important that your child has had nothing to eat
or drink for at least two hours before they are given nitrous
oxide. This helps reduce the chance of them having a large
vomit while they are drowsy.
During the procedure you child will not be
"anaesthetised." Your child will still be awake and be able to
breathe normally, continue to talk and interact with others or
After the procedure is finished, the nitrous
oxide will be turned off and your child will be given pure oxygen
to breath through the same mask for two to three minutes. This
helps to clear the gas from the body. Most children feel back to
normal within 10 minutes and may not remember parts of the
It is important that:
Developed by the Royal Children's
Hospital Procedural Pain Team. First published in June 2007.
Updated October 2010. Enquiries to RCH Department of Anaesthesia
and Pain Management
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