Laughing Gas

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Laughing Gas

In the early 18th century, after the discovery of nitrous oxide, which was known as 'LAUGHING GAS', it was used along with ether to produce intoxication during social parties-these events were called 'ether frolics'. Nitrous oxide was used during medical shows and carnivals as a recreational agent. People would pay a price to inhale it for a minute, after which they would act silly and giggle and feel intoxicated. The effect would cease once the inhalation of the gas was stopped. These were called "nitrous oxide capers" and thus the gas earned its nickname: "laughing gas".


In England, as early as 1799, Humphry Davy, inhaled nitrous oxide and found that it relieved his toothache. He reported this in a chemistry journal, but the report failed to capture the attention of the medical professionals. Later,
in 1844, a dentist in USA, named Horace Wells, found that when this "laughing gas" was administered to him by his assistant for his own tooth extraction, he did not feel the pain at all. The very next day, he arranged for a demonstration of a tooth extraction on a patient. Unfortunately for Wells, the patient cried out in pain and the people ridiculed him calling him a "Humbug". It was probably due to inadequate or improper administration of the gas by his assistant. Horace Wells left in disgrace, never to recover from the humiliation, and later committed suicide. A sad end to the person who should be credited with the honour of discovering anaesthesia and should be considered the father of anesthesia.

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great information, but kindly include some advance use of Anaesthesia in different OT stages. thanks

ashok garg

Im surprised, to know the ancient methods of anaesthesia like forceful knock on head, snow anaesthesia etc.

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