Sodium bisulfate poisoning
Sodium bisulfate is a dry acid that may be harmful if swallowed in large amounts. This article discusses poisoning from swallowing sodium bisulfate.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
Sodium bisulfate is found in:
Note: This list may not be all inclusive.
Symptoms from swallowing more than a tablespoon (15 milliliters) of this acid may include:
If the chemical touches your skin, symptoms may include:
If it gets in your eyes, you may have:
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 swallowed, immediately give the person water or milk, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. DO NOT give water or milk if the person is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.
If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water (at least 2 quarts [1.9 liters]) for at least 15 minutes.
If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move them to fresh air.
Before Calling Emergency
The following information is helpful for emergency assistance:
However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.
Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline 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.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive:
For skin exposure, treatment may include:
Hospital admission may be necessary to continue treatment. Surgery may be required if the esophagus, stomach or intestine have developed holes (perforation) from exposure to the acid.
How well a person does depends on how rapidly the sodium bisulfate was diluted and neutralized. There is a good chance of recovery if proper treatment is given soon after the poison was swallowed. Without prompt treatment, extensive damage to the mouth, throat, eyes, lungs, esophagus, nose, and stomach are possible, depending on how exposure occurred. Holes (perforation) in the esophagus and stomach may result in serious infections in both the chest and abdominal cavities, which may result in death.
Damage to the esophagus may occur as late as 2 to 3 weeks after swallowing the poison. Death may occur up to 1 month or longer after swallowing the poison. Those who recover may have continued stomach or esophagus problems.
Hoyte C. Caustics. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 148.
US National Library of Medicine; Specialized Information Services; Toxicology Data Network website. Sodium bisulfate. toxnet.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed February 14, 2019.
Review Date: 1/12/2019
Reviewed By: Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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