Sodium hydroxide poisoning
This poisoning is from an overdose of sodium hydroxide.
- Many industrial solvents and cleaners (hundreds to thousands of construction agents, flooring strippers, brick cleaners, cements, and many others)
- Some aquarium products
- Some drain cleaners
- Some oven cleaners
- Some hair straighteners
- Some metal polishes
- Breathing difficulty (from inhalation)
- Throat swelling (which may also cause breathing difficulty)
- Lung inflammation
- Eyes, ears, nose, and throat
- Severe pain in the throat
- Severe pain or burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips, or tongue
- Loss of vision
- Severe abdominal pain
- Burns of the esophagus (food pipe) and stomach
- Vomiting blood
- Blood in the stool
- Heart and blood vessels
- Hypotension (low blood pressure) develops rapidly
- Necrosis (holes) in the skin or underlying tissues
- Severe change in pH (too much or too little acid in the blood, which leads to damage in all of the body organs)
DO NOT make the person throw up.
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, immediately give the person water or milk. However, DO NOT give liquids if the patient is vomiting or the mental status appears altered.
If the person breathed in the chemical, immediately move him or her to fresh air.
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
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the U.S. use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Take the container to the hospital with you, if possible.
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:
- For swallowed poison
- Endoscopy -- the placement of a camera down the throat to see the extent of burns to the esophagus and the stomach.
- Give IV fluids
- Admission to the hospital
- Give an antidote
- Treat the symptoms
- For inhaled poisons
- A breathing tube may need to be inserted
- Admission to the hospital or to the intensive care unit
- Bronchoscopy (inserting a camera down the throat into the airway to evaluate the extent of burns to the airway and lungs)
- For skin exposure
- Irrigation (washing of the skin), perhaps every few hours for several days
- Skin debridement (surgical removal of burned skin)
- Admission or transfer to a hospital that specializes in burn care
How well a patient does depends on how fast the poison is diluted and neutralized. Extensive damage to the mouth, throat, eyes, lungs, esophagus, nose, and stomach are possible.
The ultimate outcome depends on the extent of this damage. Damage continues to occur to the esophagus and stomach for several weeks after the poison was swallowed, and death may occur as long as a month later.
Reviewed By: Janeen R. Azare, PhD, MSPH, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan-KetteringCancer Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.