Acetone poisoning

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Acetone poisoning arises if the level of acetone in the body is higher than what the liver can process.

Acetone is a transparent fluid with a scent the same as nail polish remover. If it is exposed to the air, it rapidly evaporates and remains highly combustible. Remember that it is dangerous to use it around an open source of flame. Several household products include acetone such as rubbing alcohol, furniture polish and nail polish.

What is the cause?

The body processes fats into organic molecules known as ketones daily. Take note that acetone is considered as one of the 3 forms of ketone bodies. The liver produces ketones and utilized by the body as fuel. Nevertheless, the buildup of ketones in the body is considered detrimental.

Acetone poisoning can develop if there is an irregularly high level of ketones which is called as ketoacidosis.

Poisoning also have other causes including:

Acetone poisoning
It is important to note that acetone poisoning is considered uncommon.
  • Ingestion of rubbing alcohol for intoxication
  • Ingestion of nail polish remover
  • Overexposure to specific paints in enclosed areas
  • Accidental ingestion of cleaning solutions that include acetone

What are the signs of acetone poisoning?

It is important to note that acetone poisoning is considered uncommon. The body can breakdown large amounts of acetone naturally. For overexposure to occur, the individual must generate, ingest or inhale large amounts in a short span of time.

A mild case of acetone poisoning can cause symptoms such as:

  • Slurred speech
  • Headache
  • Poor coordination
  • Sweet taste in the mouth
  • Lethargy

The severe symptoms are considered rare and include:

Management of acetone poisoning

Remember that there is no available cure for acetone poisoning. Supportive care is provided as the body clears the ketones from the body. The natural response of the body is to elevate the breathing rate to eliminate the acids that accumulated in the blood.

The doctor will insert a tube into the airway to assist with breathing. If an individual is in a critically ill state, blood pressure support is required to maintain sufficient oxygen supply to the organs. In addition, fluids are also given.

Vomiting should not be induced if the individual swallowed significant amounts of acetone. Acetone is detrimental to the tissues in the mouth and lining of the esophagus. The doctor will decide to pump the stomach by inserting a tube via the throat and into the stomach and draw it out. Since acetone is rapidly absorbed, this method is only effective during the initial hour of ingestion.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on acetone poisoning is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs, register for a first aid and CPR course with Mississauga First Aid.

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