The Food and Drug Administration wants you to stop buying, and using, poppers.
In a June 24 release, the FDA issued a warning urging consumers against the sale and use of the chemical inhalant alkyl nitrite — more commonly known by the slang term "poppers" — after an observed increase in reported death and hospitalizations linked to the recreational substance.
"The FDA is advising consumers not to purchase or use nitrite 'poppers' which can result in serious adverse health effects, including death," the FDA said in a statement posted to social media. "These products are marketed as nail polish removers but are being ingested or inhaled for recreational use."
Calling out several specific and widely-known popper brands by name, the FDA continued:
"'Poppers' are sold online or at adult novelty stores and packaged in small bottles, ranging from 10 to 40 mL. They appear similar to energy shots, with brand names including Jungle Juice, Extreme Formula, HardWare, Quick Silver, and Super RUSH."
"The FDA has observed an increase in reports of deaths and hospitalizations with issues such as severe headaches, dizziness, increase in body temperature, difficulty breathing, extreme drops in blood pressure, blood oxygen issues (methemoglobinemia), and brain death after ingestion or inhalation of nitrite 'poppers.'"
For the uninitiated, when inhaled via the nostrils, poppers can be used to relax muscles and produce a brief heightened feeling that makes things bottoming a more comfortable and pleasurable experience, which is why they are used among gay and bisexual men during sex.
According to Healthline, some of the potential risks and side effects of poppers include a drop in blood pressure during use (which may result in lightheadedness or dizziness), methemoglobinemia (an extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening blood disorder that leads to inadequate delivery of oxygen to cells), vision problems, and allergic skin reactions.
Poppers are also extremely dangerous to use shortly before or after erectile dysfunction medication like Viagra or Cialis, as both cause a person’s blood pressure to drop. The combination of poppers and ED meds can result in fainting, stroke, or even heart attacks/death.
While the FDA's recent release about poppers was just a warning, and poppers are still commercially available stateside at the time of writing (they are often marketed as nail polish removers or cleaning products and are packaged in small bottles, ranging from 10 to 40 mL, appearing similar to energy shots, the agency notes), the FDA did say they are going to continue monitoring reports about incidents relating to poppers and will "take appropriate actions to protect the public health."