Are Smelling Salts Safe

Currently, there are few studies to suggest that using smelling salts has any significant short- or long-term effects on a person, as long as they use them as directed.

However, some organizations do raise concerns about using smelling salts to increase athletic alertness. According to UConn Health, some concerns include:

  • Some people may use smelling salts to counteract the impact of head trauma, such as concussions, to get back in the game sooner. This can be dangerous to a person’s health.
  • Sometimes, when a person initially smells the salts, their head jerks back involuntarily. This may cause additional harm to a person who has a spinal injury. However, one article indicates that this reaction may be a result of having the smelling salt held too close to the person’s nose. This implies that when administered properly, the smelling salts should not cause head jerking during the inhalation.
  • The use of smelling salts without a doctor’s guidance may become a growing problem.

In an older statement, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn against the dangerous effects of overexposure to ammonia. However, although smelling salts contain ammonia, the CDC generally consider their effects to be beneficial and not cause for concern.

The CDC also note that exposure to large quantities of ammonia in cleaning products or other sources is more likely to cause health issues for a person, such as burns and irritation to the lungs.

photo: NY Daily News