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Ethylene glycol intoxication

  • Alternative Names

    Intoxication - ethylene glycol; Ethylene glycol poisoning


    Treatment

    The goal of treatment is to support the body's vital functions and remove the poison from the body.

    Most people with ethylene glycol poisoning will need to be admitted to a hospital's intensive care unit (ICU) for close monitoring, and may need a breathing machine (respirator).

    Those who recently swallowed the ethylene glycol may have their stomach pumped (suctioned). This can help remove some of the poison.

    Other treatments may include:

    • Activated charcoal
    • Sodium bicarbonate solution given through a vein (IV) to reverse severe acidosis
    • Antidotes that slow the formation of the poisonous by-products in the body

    In severe cases, hemodialysis may be used to directly remove the ethylene glycol and other poisonous substances from the blood. Dialysis reduces the time needed for the body to clear the toxins. Dialysis is also needed by patients who develop severe kidney failure as a result of ethylene glycol poisoning. It may be needed for many months afterwards.


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    Expectations (prognosis)

    If treated promptly, patients with ethylene glycol poisoning can recover, even from renal failure or coma. However, with delayed or no treatment, ethylene glycol poisoning can be deadly.


    Complications
    • kidney failure
    • shock
    • coma
    • death

    Calling your health care provider

    Ethylene glycol ingestion is a medical emergency. If you suspect possible poisoning, seek emergency care immediately. Do not wait for poisoning symptoms to develop.

    You may also want to contact the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. The center can be called from anywhere in the United States. The 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 United States 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 with you to the hospital, if possible.

    See: Poison control center - emergency number


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