Window cleaner

Definition 
Poisoning from an ingestion of window cleaner.

Poisonous Ingredient  
Most newer window cleaners are considered non-toxic. Older window cleaners may contain ammonia, ethanol, methanol, or isopropyl alcohol.

Where Found 

     
  • Some window cleaners

Symptoms 

Note: Most symptoms are seen with older window cleaners containing the toxic ingredients listed above.

     
  • 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

Home Treatment 
Seek emergency medical care immediately. Call Poison Control. DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING UNLESS INSTRUCTED TO DO SO BY POISON CONTROL.

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 
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 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

Expectations (prognosis) 
Prognosis and recovery depend on the type of substance actually ingested. If patient survives the first 72 hours, complete recovery is very likely.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Gevorg A. Poghosian, Ph.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.