Can athletes use smelling salts?

Basically, aromatic salts are used to momentarily change the way an athlete breathes, increasing their oxygen intake and revitalizing them. The rapid use of salts helps athletes regain energy and improve concentration. People often use aromatic salts to rejuvenate a person who has fainted or to help improve athletic performance. Aromatic salts are used to awaken consciousness because the release of ammonia (NH) that accompanies their use irritates the membranes of the nose and lungs and, therefore, causes an inhalation reflex.

Aromatic salts combine ammonium carbonate and perfume and are used to restore or stimulate the senses. This indicates that aromatic salts may offer a placebo effect, giving people confidence that their performance is increasing. Aroma salts can also simply be dilute ammonia dissolved in a mixture of water and ethanol, and most of the forms of “flavor salts” available on the Internet are the latter type of mixture. For people without underlying health problems, there is no evidence to indicate that using aromatic salts as directed is dangerous.

According to anecdotal reports, aromatic salts can sometimes cause headaches, especially when used in higher doses. Aromatic salts are usually a dilute ammonia solution, while poppers are a broad term for inhalable alkyl nitrates. With regard to sports concussions, the real danger is that resorting to aromatic salts in this situation is not a substitute for a careful and thorough neurological evaluation. Product information on commercially available aromatic salts clearly recommends that the capsule or solution be kept at a distance of 10 to 15 cm from the patient's nose.

In the context of sports brain injuries, there are still many people and organizations that recommend the use of aromatic salts to try to revive the injured athlete. Although athletes have recently aroused increasing interest in aromatic salts as pre-game stimulants or as a “stimulus to get up when performance is waning”, it seems that little is really known or understood about these agents. There is insufficient evidence to demonstrate the safety or efficacy of aromatic salts for any of these uses. Aromatic salts work by releasing ammonia gas that irritates your nasal and lung membranes when you smell them.

Mildred Monfort
Mildred Monfort

Infuriatingly humble food junkie. Evil twitter fanatic. Freelance zombie guru. Bacon maven. General web evangelist. Amateur beer ninja.