Incense

Definition 
This poisoning is from ingestion of liquid incense. Solid incense is considered non-toxic.

Poisonous Ingredient 
Various aromatic oils

Where Found 

     
  • Incense

Symptoms 

     
  • Respiratory       o Difficulty breathing (from inhalation or allergic reaction)  
  • Eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o Burning pain in the throat       o Blurred vision       o Burns to the eye  
  • Skin       o Rash  
  • Gastrointestinal       o Vomiting       o Abdominal pain       o Diarrhea (watery, bloody)  
  • Heart and blood vessels       o Low blood pressure  
  • Nervous system       o Stupor       o Coma

Home Treatment 
For any toxic ingestion or allergic reaction, seek emergency medical care immediately. Call the Poison Control center for guidance. DO NOT INDUCE EMESIS (VOMITING) UNLESS INSTRUCTED TO DO SO.

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 
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:

     
  • Treat the allergic reaction with diphenhydramine and prednisone.  
  • 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.

Expectations (prognosis) 
With any toxic ingestion or allergic reaction, recovery and prognosis depend on the extent of the exposure and time to treatment. Liquid incense is normally considered slightly toxic. Survival past 48 hours is usually a good sign that recovery will occur.

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.