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    Incense

    Incense is a material that creates a smell when it is burned. Incense overdose can occur when someone accidentally or intentionally sniffs or swallows liquid incense. Solid incense is not considered poisonous.

    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.

    Poisonous Ingredient

    • Aromatic oils
    • Nitrates
    • Nitrites (including amyl nitrite)

    Where Found

    Liquid incense is sold on the Internet under a variety of brand names. It is usually described as a room deodorizer, despite being sold for other purposes. Liquid incense that is breathed in (inhaled) is called a "popper."

    Symptoms

    • Eyes, ears, nose, and throat
      • Blurred vision
      • Burning pain in the throat
      • Burns to the eye
    • Gastrointestinal
      • Abdominal pain
      • Diarrhea (watery, bloody)
      • Vomiting
    • Heart and blood
      • Low blood pressure
      • Methemoglobinemia
    • Lungs
      • Difficulty breathing
      • Rapid breathing
    • Nervous system
      • Coma
      • Euphoria, a feeling like being drunk (intoxicated)
      • Seizures
      • Stupor
    • Skin
      • Blue skin or fingers
      • Rash

    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.

    Before Calling Emergency

    Determine the following information:

    • Patient's age, weight, and condition
    • Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
    • Time it was swallowed
    • Amount swallowed

    Poison Control

    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.

    See: Poison control center - emergency number

    What to Expect at the Emergency Room

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

    • Breathing tube
    • Endoscopy -- camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach
    • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
    • Medicine (antidote) to reverse the effect of the poison
    • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    How well you do depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

    Abusing liquid incense is as dangerous as taking other illicit drugs.

    References

    Maypole J, Woolf AD. Essential oils. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 101.

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          Review Date: 1/27/2010

          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. 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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