Sodium nitrite (medical use)

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Sodium nitrite
Chemical structure
Clinical data
  • US: C (Risk not ruled out)
Defined daily dosenot established[1]
External links
AHFS/Drugs.comFDA Professional Drug Information
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass68.9953
3D model (JSmol)

Sodium nitrite is used as a medication together with sodium thiosulfate to treat cyanide poisoning.[2] It is only recommended in severe cases of cyanide poisoning.[3] In those who have both cyanide poisoning and carbon monoxide poisoning sodium thiosulfate by itself is usually recommended.[4] It is given by slow injection into a vein.[2]

Side effects can include low blood pressure, headache, shortness of breath, loss of consciousness, and vomiting.[2] Greater care should be taken in people with underlying heart disease.[2] People's levels of methemoglobin should be regularly checked during treatment.[2] While not well studied during pregnancy, there is some evidence of potential harm to the baby.[5] Sodium nitrite is believed to work by creating methemoglobin that then binds with cyanide and thus removes it from the mitochondria.[5]

Sodium nitrite came into medical use in the 1920s and 1930s.[6][7] It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines.[8] The cost in the United States together with sodium thiosulfate is about US$110.[9]


The defined daily dose is not established[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "WHOCC - ATC/DDD Index". Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 World Health Organization (2009). Stuart MC, Kouimtzi M, Hill SR (eds.). WHO Model Formulary 2008. World Health Organization. p. 65. hdl:10665/44053. ISBN 9789241547659.
  3. "Sodium Nitrite Solution for Injection - Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) - (eMC)". Archived from the original on 18 September 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2017.
  4. Baren, Jill M. (2008). Pediatric Emergency Medicine. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 1018. ISBN 978-1416000877. Archived from the original on 2017-01-16.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Sodium Nitrite Injection - FDA prescribing information, side effects and uses". Archived from the original on 2017-01-18.
  6. Dart, Richard C. (2004). Medical Toxicology. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 172. ISBN 9780781728454. Archived from the original on 2017-01-16.
  7. Bryan, Nathan S.; Loscalzo, Joseph (2011). Nitrite and Nitrate in Human Health and Disease. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 226. ISBN 9781607616160. Archived from the original on 2017-01-16.
  8. World Health Organization (2019). World Health Organization model list of essential medicines: 21st list 2019. Geneva: World Health Organization. hdl:10665/325771. WHO/MVP/EMP/IAU/2019.06. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
  9. Gasco, L; Rosbolt, MB; Bebarta, VS (April 2013). "Insufficient stocking of cyanide antidotes in US hospitals that provide emergency care". Journal of Pharmacology & Pharmacotherapeutics. 4 (2): 95–102. doi:10.4103/0976-500x.110875. PMC 3669589. PMID 23761707.

External links