Poisoning from an ingestion of varnish.
- Methylene chloride
- Some varnishes
- Respiratory o Breathing difficulty (from inhalation) o Throat swelling (which may also cause breathing difficulty)
- Eyes, ears, nose, and throat o Severe pain in the throat o Severe pain or burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips, or tongue o Loss of vision
- Gastrointestinal o Severe abdominal pain o Vomiting o Burns of the esophagus (food pipe) o Vomiting blood o Blood in the stool
- Heart and blood vessels o Hypotension (low blood pressure) develops rapidly o Collapse
- Skin o Irritation o Burn o Necrosis (holes) in the skin or underlying tissues
- Neurologic o Sleepiness o Stupor o Coma o Severe brain damage
Seek emergency medical care immediately. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING UNLESS INSTRUCTED TO DO SO. If patient is conscious give a small amount of fluid (milk or water) to stop local irritation and burning of mouth and throat.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:
- The patient’s age, weight, and condition
- The name of the product (as well as the ingredients and strength, 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:
- 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 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 inhaled poisons o A breathing tube may need to be inserted o Oxygen o Admission to the hospital or to the intensive care unit o Bronchoscopy (inserting a camera down the throat into the airway to evaluate the extent of burns to the airway and lungs)
- 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
Extensive damage to the mouth, throat, and stomach are possible. The ultimate outcome depends on the extent of this damage. Damage can continue to occur for several weeks after the substance was swallowed. Death may occur.
by Armen E. Martirosyan, M.D.
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.