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Acetone poisoning

Definition

Acetone is a chemical used in many household products. This article discusses poisoning from swallowing acetone-based products.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Alternative Names

Dimethyl formaldehyde poisoning; Dimethyl ketone poisoning; Nail polish remover poisoning

Poisonous Ingredient

Acetone; Dimethyl formaldehyde; Dimethyl ketone

Where Found

  • Fingernail polish remover
  • Some cleaning solutions
  • Some glues, including rubber cement
  • Some lacquers

Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.

Symptoms

  • Cardiovascular system
    • Low blood pressure
  • Gastrointestinal system
    • Nausea
    • Pain in belly area (abdomen)
    • Person may have a fruity odor
    • Sweet taste in mouth
    • Vomiting
  • Nervous system
  • Respiratory system
  • Urinary system
    • Increased need to urinate

Home Treatment

Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.

Before Calling Emergency

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

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 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

What to expect at the emergency room

The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The patient may receive:

  • Activated charcoal if the patient arrives immediately after swallowing the poison
  • Tube through the nose into the stomach to empty the stomach (gastric lavage)
  • Oxygen, if needed

Expectations (prognosis)

Accidentally drinking small amounts of acetone/nail polish remover is unlikely to harm you as an adult. However even small amounts can be dangerous to your child, so it is important to keep this and all household chemicals in a safe place.

If the person survives past 48 hours, the chances for recovery are good.

References

Kolecki P. Isopropanol poisoning. In: Schaider JJ, Hayden SR, Wolfe RE, Barkin RM, Rosen P, eds. Rosen and Barkin’s 5-Minute Emergency Medicine Consult. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007.


Review Date: 9/29/2009
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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