Bad news, party dudes: a number of doctors have raised the alarm about the detrimental effects of your favourite deliverable inhalant, and the prognosis is not good.

That’s right, the long square arm of the medical profession is coming for nangs.

Also called bulbs, whippets and nozzies (apparently?), nangs are canisters of nitrous oxide that are usually used for whipping cream. When inhaled, nitrous causes about 20 seconds of euphoria (although the ABC‘s pull-quote, “the poor man’s cocaine“, seems a little… overstated).

It’s still used as an anaesthetic for surgery and dentistry, where it’s better known as laughing gas (our mate Josh Thomas had a puff of it so a doctor could pop his grody finger back in over the weekend). Its first use, however, was recreationally at upper-class “laughing gas parties” in 1700s England – and it’s a practice that’s apparently come back into vogue in a big way.

According to the ABC, Australian doctors are increasingly treating patients who’ve been adversely affected by nang use.

Dr Andrew Dawson, director of Westmead Hospital’s Poisons Information Centre, told 7.30:

Very recently I had a 20-year-old patient whose brain appeared to have the same level of damage as an alcoholic who had been drinking for 40 years.

We have had a doubling of the number of calls from hospitals about significantly affected people from nitrous oxide exposure.

Those effects are severe nerve injury, or sometimes brain injury. There has been a real spike over the last two years.

There’s been two recorded deaths in Australia from nang use since 2010. The ABC also met with a girl who’d been left struggling to walk after doing up to 360 nangs a week; the habit had caused damage to nerves in her spine. They also report that nang use can cause memory loss, a weakened immune system and incontinence.

Nangs remain legal, theoretically, which is why you can buy them at your local corner store and get ’em delivered to your house in several states – though you’re only supposed to use them for their original purpose, i.e. whipping cream.

Source: ABC
Image: Getty Images / Matt Cardy