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Smelling Salts and Sports: Ammonia Inhalant Use in Athletes

Smelling salts or ammonia inhalants have long been used as remedies for dizziness and fainting.  Fast-acting ammonia inhalants like the Safetec Ammonia Inhalant Pouches   come in easy-to-use respiratory stimulant form with 15.0% Ammonia. These days, however, smelling salts are used for more than combatting dizziness spells. Athletes have been using smelling salts in sports to help give them an extra boost before games and events.

Safetec Ammonia Inhalant Towelettes An article published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported that the ammonia found in smelling salts may help stimulate the senses to help people regain awareness after fainting. Athletes use ammonia inhalants for the same stimulant effect. The ammonia irritates nasal and lung membranes when sniffed, resulting in faster breathing and inhalation. This sends more oxygen to the brain and may give athletes that sense of alertness they need to stay sharp during games and events. 

While there are few studies that suggest the negative short-or-long-term effects of using smelling salts in sports, ammonia inhalants and smelling salts should be used with caution and always used as directed. This is particularly true when using smelling salts to increase athletic alertness. The CDC warns against excessive exposure to ammonia inhalants due to the health conditions it could result in, specifically related to the lungs and the nostrils. Athletes using smelling salts should also exercise extreme caution in the case of a head injury or concussion, as they can mask more severe injuries or hide symptoms. 

Some professional sports leagues have a growing concern about the misuse of smelling salts. They worry that repeated use of smelling salts may put athletes at risk for future injuries, as well as for substance abuse issues. While none of these have been substantiated, it is important to exercise extreme caution when using smelling salts in sports and to only use them on occasion.

How to Use Smelling Salts Safely

Each ammonia inhalant or type of smelling salt has its own set of directions on the packaging. It is always advised to follow directions on the packaging and reach out to your health care provider if you are unsure how to use a product.

To use smelling salts, healthcare professionals recommend holding them at least 10 centimeters (4 inches) away from your nose. This allows the smelling salts and ammonia inhalant to take effect without risking burning the inside of your nasal passages.  

For any questions about how to properly use smelling salts and/or ammonia inhalants, please contact your healthcare professional. You may also contact the team at CWI Medical.

In addition to ammonia inhalants, CWI Medical also provides many additional medical supplies and health care products. Learn more about our product offerings when you visit our site today!

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