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    Hydrochloric acid poisoning

    Hydrocholoric acid is a clear, poisonous liquid. It is highly corrosive, which means it immediately causes severe damage, such as burning, on contact.

    This article discusses poisoning due to swallowing or breathing in hydrochloric acid.

    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 a local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

    Poisonous Ingredient

    Hydrochloric acid

    Where Found

    • Certain fertilizers
    • Pool chemicals
    • Soldering fluxes

    This list is not all-inclusive.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms from swallowing hydrochloric acid may include:

    • Abdominal pain - severe
    • Breathing difficulty due to swelling of throat
    • Chest pain - severe
    • Drooling
    • Fever
    • Mouth pain - severe
    • Rapid drop in blood pressure
    • Throat pain - severe
    • Vomiting blood

    Symptoms from breathing in hydrochloric acid:

    • Bluish color to lips and fingernails
    • Chest tightness
    • Choking
    • Coughing
    • Coughing up blood
    • Dizziness
    • Low blood pressure
    • Rapid pulse
    • Shortness of breath
    • Weakness

    If the poison touches your skin or eyes, you may have:

    • Blisters
    • Burns
    • Pain
    • Vision loss

    Home Care

    Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.

    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, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. DO NOT give water or milk if the patient is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.

    If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move him or her to fresh air.

    Before Calling Emergency

    If possible, determine the following information:

    • Patient's age, weight, and condition (for example, is the person awake or alert?)
    • Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
    • When it was swallowed or inhaled
    • How much was swallowed or inhaled

    However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.

    Poison Control

    In the United States, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak with a local poison control center. This hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

    This is a free and confidential service. 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.

    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. The patient may receive:

    • Breathing tube
    • Bronchoscopy -- camera down the throat to see burns in the airways and lungs
    • Endoscopy -- camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach
    • Fluids by IV
    • Medicines to treat symptoms
    • Oxygen

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    How well a patient does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment was received. The faster a patient gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

    Extensive damage to the mouth, throat, and stomach are possible. Drinking or breathing in hydrochloric acid may be deadly.

    References

    Medical Management Guidelines for Hydrogen Chloride. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR). Atlanta, GA.

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          A Closer Look

            Self Care

              Tests for Hydrochloric acid poisoning

                Review Date: 2/1/2013

                Reviewed By: Eric Perez, MD, St. Luke's / Roosevelt Hospital Center, NY, NY, and Pegasus Emergency Group (Meadowlands and Hunterdon Medical Centers), NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

                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. 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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                St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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