Benzene ingestion

This poisoning is caused by ingestion of benzene.

Poisonous Ingredient  


Where Found  

  • Various paint, lacquer, and varnish removers  
  • Multiple industrial solvents  
  • Additives to gasoline and other fuels

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


  • Body as a whole       o Weakness       o Staggering       o Tremors       o Convulsions  
  • Respiratory       o Tight chest       o Rapid, shallow breathing  
  • Eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o Blurred vision  
  • Skin       o Pale       o Small red dots  
  • Gastrointestinal       o Nausea and/or vomiting       o Loss of appetite  
  • Heart and blood vessels       o Irregular heartbeat  
  • Nervous system       o Dizziness       o Drowsiness       o Nervousness       o Unconsciousness       o Euphoria (exaggerated feeling of well-being)       o Headache

Home Treatment  
DO NOT INDUCE EMESIS (VOMITING). Exposure to high concentrations of benzene can be fatal. Seek emergency medical care immediately.

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. Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room  

Some, or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • For inhalation:       o Administer oxygen       o Breathing tube (assisted ventillation)       o Admission to the intensive care unit  
  • For swallowed poison       o Placement of a tube down the nose and into the stomach (a nasogastric tube, or an NG tube) to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)       o Activated charcoal administration       o Endoscopy - the placement of a camera down the throat to see the extent of burns to the esophagus and the stomach       o Give IV fluids       o Admission to the hospital       o Give an antidote       o Treat the symptoms  
  • For skin exposure       o Irrigation (washing of the skin), perhaps every few hours for several days       o Skin debridement (surgical removal of burned skin)       o Admission or transfer to a hospital that specializes in burn care  
  • For allergic reactions       o Use of diphenhydramine       o Use of prednisone

Expectations (prognosis)
Benzene is extremely toxic, and exposure can be rapidly fatal. Deaths have occurred as late as 3 days after ingestion of the product. Many complications may occur. Seek emergency medical care immediately for any benzne exposure.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Harutyun Medina, M.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.