PARALDEHYDE, in medicine, a clear colourless liquid (for the chemistry see Aldehydes), soluble in i in 10 of water and freely in alcohol. Paraldehyde is a powerful hypnotic, giving a refreshing quiet sleep which is not foUowed by unpleasant after effects. As it does not depress the heart when used in medicinal doses, it may be given to patients suffering from cardiac disease. It is much used to produce sleep in the insane. As it is largely excreted by the lungs it may be found useful in bronchial asthma. When taken continuously the drug soon loses its power as a hypnotic. Its unpleasant taste usually prevents the formation of a paraldehyde habit, but it occasionally occurs with symptoms resembling delirium tremens. When taken in an overdose paraldehyde kills by producing respiratory failure.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)