Also as a side note, could you sniff them to keep you awake?
Laser Engraving Wood
supertucci: Smelling salts are truly vile. It’s very strong ammonia. It doesn’t “smell bad” it’s a chemical attack in your sinuses that you can’t ignore, like tear gas or something.
Years ago when I worked in the ER there was a particular challenge. Habitual drinks would come in literally comatose. If you monitored them and gave them some IV fluids they would always wake up safely, in time. BUT a small number would come in drunk AND with a life threatening brain injury (often with little or external trauma, from falling down…drunk) . How to tell the difference? You can’t do head CTs in every drunk in a busy ER (and some habitual drinks would get like 80 CTs a year). Enter the supertucci brain injury severity test. I would crack one of these and cram (I mean gently place) it up one nostril. If they couldn’t muster the 10 neurons to pull it out (and they really wanted to pull it out since it is so obnoxious) it was OFF to the CT scanner for a sometime life saving scan. On average my ER has one case a month of a drunk who didn’t sober up over time, got a CT and only then we realized he also had a brain injury we’ve been sitting in for hours. I had zero. 25 years later I still feel good about that.
Sablemint: They release ammonia gas. Ammonia is an irritant that triggers an inhalation reflex, which also increases heart rate. This cancels the physical effects of fainting – a reduced heart rate, breathing and metabolism in general.
It won’t keep you awake, but it can keep you from passing out in certain situations.
zWraith: I’m not sure about keeping you awake but I do know that hockey players use smelling salts all the time to get them going again and keep performing
mamafrisk: When I was about to faint in the hospital they had me sit down and sniff an alcohol wipe. Why did that work?
Heathcote_Pursuit: Typically they contain ammonia, which forces a reflex. It doesn’t always work, and they’re used to keep people awake rather than waking people. If you ever get a hit of ammonia you’ll understand just how potent the reaction is.
andrewtavares: i used to be a sideline guy for the toronto argos (football) team and the guys were using them like crazy. before the game, during the game, between plays, they were getting hyped off them. i took a couple just to mess around with and they are really something unique. imagine smelling a combination of gasoline, vinegar, and other acidic stuff. it goes straight to your head and kinda jolts you
wotsname123: They were mainly for fainting, which is somewhat different to unconsciousness, not least as some of the fainters were probably being melodramatic (such were the times) and the salts were unpleasant enough for people to chose another way of expressing their distress.
matthewspencer: Inside your head you have something called a brain which let’s you think and makes you who you are. The Thalamus is a part of your brain that sends messages from your senses to the rest of the brain. When you go to sleep, your Thalamus also goes to sleep. Scent is the one exception, it does not use the Thalamus and works even when you are sleeping!
Danimal_House: You should not use these to keep you awake. They contain ammonia, a toxic irritant. There’s a reason they’re only used on unconscious people, and sparingly. Longer exposures can be harmful.
highdealist: Found one of these when I was like 6 or 7 and cracked it and decided to smell it. It was like being kicked in the face at full force. 0 to regret in under 1sec.
agt20201: Would I be wrong in assuming that smelling salts are not really used that often on unconscious people as much as they are used on people that are a little disoriented?
I ask this because, unless there is something really really wrong, people do not stay knocked out, or unconscious.
So it must be for people that, for example, ran too hard in the heat and have bad cardio. So once they stop running, their blood pressure drops, their vision starts going funny… basically they are about to faint or just fainted. But even in this case, A fainted person is going to get back up again, unless there is something extremely wrong. If that is the case, I don’t even think they would use smelling salts.
Bombshell_Amelia: ELI5 what professions or workplaces might advise NOT using smelling salts to wake an unconscious person and why?
snoozeflu: So can smelling salts be purchased or is it something that medical personnel only have access to?