Sodium carbonate

This poisoning is from an overdose of sodium carbonate.

Where Found 

  • Automatic dishwashing soaps  
  • Some antacids  
  • Some bleaches  
  • Some bubble bath solutions  
  • Clinitest tablets  
  • Some steam iron cleaners

Note: This list is not all inclusive.


  • Body as a whole       o Severe pain in the mouth, throat, chest, or abdomen       o Shock       o Collapse  
  • Respiratory       o Breathing difficulty, due to throat swelling  
  • Eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o Severe pain in the throat       o Hoarseness       o Drooling       o Difficulty swallowing  
  • Gastrointestinal       o Severe Abdominal pain       o Vomiting  
  • Heart and blood vessels       o Low Blood pressure may develop rapidly

Home Treatment 

If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.

If the chemical was swallowed, give ONE GLASS of water or milk IMMEDIATELY. DO NOT give water of milk if the patient is Vomiting or has a decreased level of alertness.

Before Calling Emergency 
If readily available, 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. 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 swallowed poison       o Give fluids       o Give an antidote       o Treat the symptoms       o Chest and/or abdominal X-rays  
  • For inhaled poison       o Treat the symptoms       o Give supplemental oxygen

Expectations (prognosis) 

The prognosis (probable outcome) will be dependent on the corrosive potential of the product ingested, as well as how rapidly the alkali was diluted and neutralized. Extensive damage to the mouth, throat, and stomach are possible.

The ultimate outcome depends on the extent of this damage. Damage may continue to occur to the esophagus and stomach for several days after the alkali was swallowed, and further complications or death may occur on a delayed basis.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Martin A. Harms, 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.