What are the dangers of kids sucking helium balloons?

Updated April 17, 2017

Many children, teenagers and even some adults find the phenomenon of sucking helium out of balloons to be hilarious. They laugh at the high-pitched and squeaky voice they hear after they have inhaled a substantial amount of helium. Sucking in helium poses health risks, especially for children.


Headaches are one of the most harmless dangers associated with children sucking in helium from balloons. However, that doesn't mean that they are harmless. Your child might have a headache for quite some time after inhaling helium as a result of the lack of oxygen reaching their brain. This headache can affect their mood and personal interactions. It is important for parents to explain that headaches can be a serious problem and that inhaling in helium can cause this problem.


Fainting is one of the most common risks associated with breathing in helium from a balloon. Unless you stick your head inside a balloon, as two college students in Florida did according to, you will pass out after sucking in a harmful amount of helium, at which point your breathing will return to normal. The fainting is caused by a lack of oxygen that helium causes in your body. Children can faint from sucking in helium and can fall and hit their heads or injure themselves in other ways.

Inhaling Parts of Balloon

According to the Isle of Man government website, cases have been reported in which people who were inhaling helium from a balloon also breathe in pieces of the balloon. Inhaling a piece of the balloon can cause blockages in airways, which can lead to fainting or asphyxiation. Parents should ensure that their children understand that it is not just the helium that is dangerous, but also the balloon itself.


Suffocation causes death quickly and easily, especially in children. People who do not get enough oxygen will most likely faint, but if they do not faint in such a way that allows them to restore their supply of oxygen, they could suffocate. According to a May 7, 2011, article in the Belfast Telegraph, Coral Jordan McDowell died at age 13 in Northern Ireland from suffocating with her head inside a helium balloon.

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About the Author

Kate Taylor is a professional writer based in Lafayette, Ind. She has served as an online copywriter in areas such as pet care, education and landscaping. Taylor is working toward her M.B.A. at Loyola University Chicago.