Nitric oxide – now that seems like a term straight out of our high school chemistry book!
Nitric oxide, also known as nitrogen oxide or nitrogen monoxide, is basically a molecule with the chemical formula NO and is considered a free radical. This molecule is involved in many physiological and pathological processes. In fact, low levels of nitric oxide help in protecting the organs, such as the liver from ischemic damage. Nitric oxide is widely used in the chemical industry. It is also released by the combustion of substances into the air by automobile industries, fossil power plants, etc and produced naturally by electrical discharges of lightning during thunderstorms. Today, it is produced on a massive scale for the synthesis of nitric acid from ammonia. Despite its several uses, high levels of nitric oxide can be toxic to your health in several ways.
10 Side Effects Of Nitric Oxide:
Given below are some possible side effects that may culminate from the excess use of nitric oxide and its products.
1. Respiratory Ailments:
Overdose of nitric oxide can cause respiratory side effects, such as atelectasis and stridor. Atelectasis is a respiratory disorder that leads to a partial or complete collapse of the lungs. It is caused when the tiny air sacs within the lung become deflated and can increase the risk of other complications like lung tumors, fluid within the lung, cystic fibrosis, chest discomfort and severe asthma. Stridor is caused by the blockage in the throat or voice box (larynx) and is characterized by an abnormal high pitched musical breathing sound. Children, having narrower airways than adults, are at a higher risk of this ailment. Excess intake of nitric oxide can also trigger wheezing problems, and allergic reactions like asthma attacks in asthma patients.
2. Hematologic Side Effects:
Increased doses of nitric oxide can cause hematologic side effects like methaemoglobinaemia and elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide in the body.
3. Metabolic Disorders:
Overdose of nitric oxide can cause metabolic disorders like hyperglycemia or high blood sugar. It is most common among diabetic patients and is characterized by abnormally high blood glucose levels. The symptoms include increased thirst and frequent urination.
4. Low Blood Pressure:
Nitric oxide can cause low blood pressure. People with low blood pressure should avoid taking nitric oxide supplements as this will worsen their problem.
5. Nausea, Vomiting And Diarrhea:
Overdose of nitric oxide supplements can cause stomach problems like diarrhea as well as nausea and vomiting. So it is important to take them in the right amount.
6. Effects On Skin:
People often experience palpitations and rapid heartbeat after taking nitric oxide supplements. This can lead to symptoms like skin irritations, dry mouth, water retention and excessive sweating.
7. Vasodilation And Bleeding:
Nitric oxide facilitates vasodilation, a process that enables blood vessels to relax and opens pathways for blood flow. This has several health benefits like anti-aging and heart health. However, it is not without its adverse side effects, which include risk of excessive bleeding and low blood pressure. Those on heart medications should consult their physician before using nitric oxide products. Overdose of nitric oxide is also associated with renal side effects like hematuria characterized by blood in the urine.
8. Cardiovascular Side Effects:
The cardiovascular side effects resulting from the use of nitric oxide include hypotension. It is just the opposite of hypertension and is characterized by low blood pressure. It is basically a physiological state, which is often associated with shock.
9. Electrolyte Imbalance:
Excess nitric oxide in the body can lead to high levels of creatine and urea, potassium chloride and low phosphate. This is particularly harmful to people with liver or kidney disorders as it can interfere with their organ’s ability to regulate electrolytes in the body.
10. Health Effects Of Acid Rain:
Nitric oxide in the air gets converted to nitric acid. This nitric acid combines with rain water to cause acid rain, which is potentially harmful to humans, animals and the environment on the whole. The adverse health effects of acid rain include heart and lung problems like asthma and bronchitis and even premature death. It is also one of the gases responsible for ozone layer depletion, which has its own health implications.
These are some of the prominent side effects of nitric oxide on the body. It may also lead to other side effects like sepsis, infection, dyspnea, cellulitis, and headache. These side effects and those given above signal the need to know and administer the correct dosage of nitric oxide. So talk to your doctor before you start popping those nitric oxide pills!
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