When coming into hospital, children, young people and their families are often worried that they may be in pain. Entonox® is a gas – a mixture of half oxygen and half nitrous oxide that is used for pain relief. Entonox® can also be called ‘gas and air’ or ‘laughing gas’. This page from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) explains how Entonox® works, when it is most suitable and what to expect when your child uses Entonox® for pain relief.
When is Entonox® used?
Can any child have Entonox®?
- Is unable to understand how to breathe in the gas or cannot hold the mask or mouthpiece without help
- Has had a recent head injury
- Has or has recently had an ear infection or middle ear surgery
- Has been underwater diving in the past 48 hours
- Has a bowel obstruction
- Has a lung condition called ‘pneumothorax’ or any major problems with their airway or breathing
How does my child get ready for having Entonox®?
How is the Entonox® gas given?
- If your child chooses to use a mask, they should put it over their nose and mouth, creating an airtight seal, and then breathe in normally.
- If your child chooses to use a mouthpiece, they should hold it between their teeth and close their lips around it to make an airtight seal. They should then breathe in and out only through their mouth.
How long does it take to recover after using Entonox®?
Are there any alternatives to using Entonox®?
Are there any side effects?
- Dry mouth – this is a common side effect on Entonox® but is not usually troublesome. Your child should have a drink after the procedure has finished.
- Earache – if your child complains of earache while using Entonox®, we will stop using it and use an alternative form of pain relief instead.
- Dizziness or disorientation – this can sometimes happen if your child is breathing too quickly (hyperventilation). The effect of Entonox® wears off very quickly so they should stop breathing the gas until the feeling passes and then start again, more slowly and deeply.
- Nausea and vomiting – your child will not be allowed to eat or drink anything for at least one hour before using Entonox® and should not have had a heavy meal in the hours before this. This will reduce feelings of nausea and vomiting. If your child starts to feel sick during the procedure, we suggest that they stop using the gas until the feeling passes and then start again when they feel more comfortable.
- Tingling sensation – children occasionally report a tingling sensation around their lips, hands or feet or sometimes a ‘floating’ feeling. This is an effect of the Entonox® and wears off as soon as they stop breathing in the gas.
- Becoming too sleepy – if your child uses Entonox® for 45 minutes or longer in one session, they may become sleepy. Usually, if this happens, they will let go of the mask or mouthpiece so that they are no longer breathing in the gas. This allows the effects of the gas to wear off before they start breathing it in again. The nurse supervising will also be monitoring your child and will remove the handset if they become too sleepy.
Can my child use other pain relief at the same time as Entonox®?
Can my child have too much Entonox®?
Are there any long term effects of using Entonox®?
How often can my child use Entonox®?
I am not sure if I should let my child use the Entonox®
Please note this is a generic GOSH information sheet. If you have specific questions about how this relates to your child, please ask your doctor. Please note this information may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals.