UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Sudden Sniffing Death

Posted: 5/8/2008 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Updated: 7/14/2024)
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  • Adolescents abuse inhalational agents due to lack of access to ETOH and illicit drugs
  • Often halogenated hydrocarbon propellants like computer cleaner and paint stripper
  • Sensitizes the myocardium to catecholamines
  • Child is caught huffing and is frightened causing a catecholamines surge then v-fib arrest
  • This was reported in a 1970 case series and "Sudden Sniffing Death" was coined (1)
  • Actual treatment would be to administer B-Blocker in this instance (theoretical)


Bass. Sudden Sniffing Death. JAMA 1970.