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Alternative NamesEngine coolant poisoning
Definition Return to top
Antifreeze is a liquid used to cool engines. It is also called engine coolant. This article discusses poisoning caused by swallowing antifreeze.
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.
Ethylene glycol poisoning
Poisonous Ingredient Return to top
Where Found Return to top
Symptoms Return to top
Home Care Return to top
Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.
Use standard first aid and CPR for signs of shock or cardiac arrest. Call your local Poison Control Center or 911 for further assistance.
Before Calling Emergency Return to top
Determine the following information:
Poison Control Return to top
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 Return to top
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:
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
For ethylene glycol: Death may occur within the first 24 hours. If patient survives, there may be little or no urine output for several weeks before the kidneys recover. Any brain damage may be permanent. Vision loss or blindness may also be permanent.
For methanol: Methanol is extremely toxic. As little as 2 TABLEspoons can kill a child, while 2 to 8 oz. can be deadly for an adult. The ultimate outcome depends on how much was swallowed and how soon appropriate care was given.Update Date: 2/9/2009 Updated by: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Stephen C. Acosta, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, OR. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (10/24/2007).