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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 5, 2022.

Excipient (pharmacologically inactive substance)

What is it?

Ammonia (NH3) is a gaseous compound with a distinctive, sharp and pungent odor. Aromatic ammonia spirit is used in medicine to prevent or treat fainting when this pungent smell is passed quickly under the nose. Short or longer-term inhalation of larger quantities may result in irritation of eyes and nose with sore throat, cough, chest tightness, headache, confusion, asthma or wheezing. Ingestion, or exposure to the eye or skin may result in severe burns. Ammonia is not considered to be carcinogenic or mutagenic.

When the gas is dissolved in water it produces a liquid-gas ammonia which is a weak base. Ammonia is a corrosive and toxic chemical that is used in industry for a multitude of processes, including the production of pharmaceuticals. Ammonia is used in the manufacture of nitric acid, soda ash, dyes, and for medications such as sulfa drugs, vitamins and cosmetics. Ammonia is also found in nature as a by-product of the decay process.[1][2]

Ammonia is a component of the radioactive diagnostic agent Ammonia N 13 Injection. It is indicated for diagnostic Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging of the myocardium under rest or pharmacologic stress conditions to evaluate myocardial perfusion in patients with suspected or existing coronary artery disease.[3]

List of medications using Ammonia


  1. U.K. Health Protection Agency. Ammonia. General Information. Accessed April 14, 2012
  2. RM Technologies. Uses of Ammonia. Accessed April 14, 2012.
  3. Ammonia N-13. Accessed April 14, 2012.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.