Alternative names 
Mouthwash overdose

This poisoning from an overdose of mouthwash.

Poisonous Ingredient
Ethanol (drinking alcohol)

Where Found

  • Listerine  
  • Many other mouthwashes


  • Body as a whole       o Collapse       o Convulsions       o Excessive sweating       o Excessive thirst       o Listing from side to side       o Decreased urine output       o Slurred speech       o Unable to walk in a normal manner       o Low blood sugar  
  • Respiratory       o Deep breathing - may be rapid       o Rapid breathing - may be shallow       o Slowed respirations       o Stopped breathing  
  • Skin       o Bluish skin (lips and fingernails)  
  • Gastrointestinal       o Abdominal pain       o Diarrhea       o Nausea and vomiting  
  • Heart and blood vessels       o Drop in blood pressure  
  • Nervous system       o Coma       o Dizziness       o Drowsiness

Home Treatment
Call Poison Control. Seek emergency medical care immediately.

Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following:

  • 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:

  • Use gastric lavage.  
  • Administer activated charcoal.  
  • Administer a laxative.  
  • Establish and maintain airway.  
  • Monitor blood alcohol levels.  
  • Admit to the hospital or the intensive care unit.  
  • Kidney dialysis.

Expectations (prognosis)
If the patient survives the first 24 hours without any major problems, survival is very likely. Poisoning symptoms will be from ethyl alcohol, and not as likely from the other agents mentioned.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by Potos A. Aagen, 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.