NO Gas Overdose? 8 Common Side Effects Of Nitric Oxide

nitric oxide side effects

Although nitric oxide (NO) is highly effective as a vasodilator, it is also associated with a host of side effects.

These include bleeding time, blood in the urine, and lowered pulse.

The overdose of NO can even cause cardiac failure and even fatalities, particularly when it is inhaled.

Excessive NO can also interfere with the body’s blood purification process, causing high levels of creatinine.

In this article, we explore 8 of the most commonly reported nitric oxide side effects to help you determine whether it’s worth the risk of using nitric oxide supplements or not.

What Are Side Effects Of Using Nitric Oxide Gas?

1) Blurred Vision

The mechanism by which nitric oxide can cause blurred vision remains a mystery.

However, we do know that being exposed to high nitric oxide levels, especially for prolonged periods, is likely to cause eye irritation and can even lead to loss of sight.

Scientists believe that nitric oxide interacts with a small molecule that is actually a neurotransmitter and a neuromodulator in the retina.

It is volatile and chemically unstable. Past studies have used the histochemical activity of the enzyme NADPH-diaphorase to study its effects on the retina.

In the present study, the enzyme was found in the retina of chicks, and the molecule was found in 15 different kinds of retinal nerves.

Symptoms to look for

Look out for itching and burning of the eyes, redness, and swelling as well.

2) Respiratory Illnesses

Nitric oxide is a reactive gas that is present in the atmosphere. The body’s response to this gas is a key factor in developing a range of respiratory ailments.

Even at low nitric oxide levels, you can still experience cell damage to your respiratory system.

One of the mechanisms by which nitric oxide causes respiratory ailment is through its effects on DNA.

Nitric oxide causes DNA strand breaks when inhaled and leads to a chain chemical reaction within the body.

Those changes can lead to DNA repair or cell death; it is primarily dependent on the amount of nitric oxide inhaled.

This reaction causes irritation to the respiratory tract and, if severe enough, can lead to lung disease and fluid accumulation in and around the lungs.

Inhalation of massive nitric oxide levels can lead to even death, scarring and swelling of your respiratory system, acute lung injury, and much more.

Symptoms to look for

After exposure to nitric oxide, if you have prolonged coughing, sore throat, chest, or difficulty breathing, then speak with your doctor.

3) Methemoglobin Development

Another potential side effect of taking nitric oxide supplements or inhalation is the risk of developing methemoglobin.

Methemoglobin is a condition in which the iron in hemoglobin is oxidized, and this means less oxygen will be available for the cells throughout your body.

The effects of nitric oxide on the hemoglobin level may be related to the mechanism of methemoglobin oxidation.

Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, and a large amount of it is destroyed during methemoglobin.

In such a case where there is too much nitric oxide being broken down too quickly, up to 1,000 times faster, it leads to abnormally high NO consumption and resistance to NO bioactivity.

The breakdown of NO released from red blood cells is dependent on its ability to avoid interacting with a blood component called oxyhemoglobin.

Red blood cells have low hemoglobin nitric oxide production that is regulated by the activity of a specific enzyme called endothelial nitric oxide synthase.

In essence, too much NO being converted too quickly can flood the body with methemoglobin and nitrate, which causes low oxygen transport, leading to a lack of oxygen availability.

Symptoms to look for

Look out for shortness of breath, cold fingers and toes, and pale-colored lips.

4) Metabolic Disorders

The role of nitric oxide in metabolic disorders is disputed.

It has been suggested that it plays a role in cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, low blood pressure, and pre-eclampsia.

In addition, increased L-arginine (an amino acid that helps the body build protein) activity may be involved in the development of metabolic disorders, such as diabetes.

As a result, nitric oxide production in the smooth muscle cells of blood vessels is important.

Increased levels of nitric oxide in the body are associated with increased oxidative stress, a process that causes much damage to your cells.

Symptoms to look for

People with high blood sugar are typically noted to have high nitric oxide levels in their blood.

5) Damaged Arteries

Recent studies published by the American Heart Association have suggested that increased levels of nitric oxide (NO) in the arteries are linked with arterial stiffness.

This effect is mediated by changes in vascular smooth muscle tone and the structural integrity of arterial walls.

This process also involves changes in the amount of nitric oxide you actually absorb from taking nitric oxide supplements.

A present study shows that nitric oxide can cause arterial stiffness, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and other potential side effects on the cardiovascular system.

It is the effects of nitric oxide supplements or inhaled nitric oxide on the blood vessels that affect blood flow, causing a change in blood pressure.

As such, one can develop high blood pressure, or it may lower blood pressure, depending on the amount in the blood and how much damage has been sustained.

Inflammation and cardiovascular disease are related, and the presence of chronic inflammation increases the risk of atherosclerosis.

Systemic inflammatory conditions can also affect the heart muscle and lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular events.

The relationship between nitric oxide and inflammation is not fully understood, but it is thought to be complex; as such, more research is needed.

Nitric oxide has a variety of effects on inflammation and pain, affecting the human body. However, it is unclear how much of an impact NO has on arterial stiffness.

Symptoms to look for

If your arteries have been damaged, you may experience low or high blood pressure.

6) Nausea, Vomiting, and Diarrhea

Although nitric oxide may be beneficial in small doses to people with underlying health conditions, those small doses could still be a problem.

Quite often, nitric oxide causes nausea and vomiting.

Nitric oxide may cause diarrhea and vomiting and is also dangerous for children because it can damage the brain.

If you experience these side effects from using nitric oxide supplements or L-arginine supplements, it’s best to seek out natural ways of increasing your nitric oxide intake.

what to eat

You should consume nitrate-rich foods, such as broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, and peas.

7) Vasodilation and Bleeding

The cell wall of blood vessels, called the endothelium, produces nitric oxide.

The endothelium regulates blood flow and produces nitric oxide in response to changes in the surrounding environment.

In healthy individuals, excess nitric oxide promotes blood vessel dilation and expands blood vessels, thereby decreasing plaque growth and blood clotting.

It is this dilation that also helps to treat erectile dysfunction.

However, when an individual experiences emotional distress, this membrane produces less nitric oxide and accelerates the onset of atherosclerosis (plaque build-up inside your arteries).

Despite the importance of nitric oxide, the role of NO in blood flow is unclear. Nonetheless, it seems elevated levels of nitric oxide is potentially harmful to those on heart medications.

Research suggests that it contributes to the healing of ulcers, slows nerve damage, and maintains circulation to organs below normal levels.

But, the question remains: How does nitric oxide contribute to normal hemodynamics? The answer is complex, but no one knows exactly.

It has a surprisingly large role in human physiology and may even exacerbate kidney disease and decrease heart health.

If you already have low blood pressure, then you should avoid using nitric oxide.

Symptoms to look for

But the experts do know that nitric oxide leads to blood vessel dilation, and as such, you may experience increased blood pressure, headaches, and unusual bleeding.

8) Muscle Ischemia

Nitric oxide is a component of cellular signaling that plays an important role in skeletal muscle contraction.

Several types of NO are found in the muscle cells and are anchored to a protein called dystrophin.

These proteins form a protein complex called dystrophin, which is mutated in Duchenne muscular dystrophy and other disorders.

Nitric oxide remains localized to one area of the muscle, where it may lead to a lack of oxygen, especially in the working muscles.

Symptoms to look for

If nitric oxide is causing muscle ischemia, you may experience burning or tingling aches, muscle tension, or stiffness that feel like knots in your legs, thighs, shoulders, and back.

Final Thoughts

Nitric oxide production happens naturally throughout the human body; however, it needs to be supplemented, and for that reason, we use supplements and amino acids.

Nitric oxide also has a range of health benefits and therapeutic applications, including treating erectile dysfunction, improving exercise performance, enhancing heart health, and regulating blood pressure.

Unfortunately, whether ingested or inhaled nitric oxide, in excess, nitric oxide can cause severe adverse effects.

Since nitric oxide is present in almost all body cells, it can cause side effects on any system.

Bleeding nitric oxide, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, lung disease.

Speak to your healthcare provider before using nitric oxide, especially if you have less than normal blood pressure.

When you consume nitrate, your body converts it to nitric oxide, and that causes your blood vessels to relax and dilate, lowering blood pressure.