Antifreeze

Definition 
Poisoning caused by ingestion of antifreeze.

Poisonous Ingredient 

     
  • ethylene glycol  
  • methanol

Where Found 

     
  • various antifreezes

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.

Symptoms  
for ethylene glycol:

     
  • body as a whole       o no urine output       o blood in urine       o weakness       o fatigue       o Convulsions  
  • respiratory       o Rapid breathing  
  • skin       o blue lips and fingernails  
  • gastrointestinal       o nausea and/or Vomiting  
  • heart and blood vessels       o rapid heartbeat       o Low Blood pressure  
  • nervous system       o headache       o stupor       o unconsciousness       o slurred speech       o unsteady gait

for methanol:

     
  • body as a whole       o weakness       o leg cramps       o Convulsions  
  • respiratory       o rapid, shallow breathing       o stop breathing  
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o blurred vision       o Blindness       o skin       o blue lips and fingernails  
  • gastrointestinal       o nausea and/or Vomiting  
  • heart and blood vessels       o drop in blood pressure  
  • nervous system       o coma       o fatigue       o headache       o dizziness

Home Treatment 

There are no home treatments. Use standard first-aid and CPR for signs of shock or cardiac arrest. Call your local Poison Control Center or 911 for further assistance.

Before Calling Emergency 
Determine the following information:

     
  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • the name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known)  
  • the time it was swallowed  
  • the amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number 
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Bring the poison container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room 
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

     
  • Use gastric lavage.  
  • Give an antidote (ethanol or fomepizole.)  
  • Dialysis  
  • Treat the symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis) 
For ethylene glycol: Death may occur within the first 24 hours. If patient survives, there may be little or no urine output for several weeks before the kidneys recover. Any brain damage may be permanent.

For methanol: Methanol is extremely toxic. As little as 2 TABLEspoons can be fatal to a child, while 2 to 8 oz. can be fatal for an adult. The ultimate outcome for the patient depends on how much was swallowed and how soon appropriate care was given.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.