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This article discusses the harmful effects that can occur from swallowing jewelry cleaner or breathing in its fumes.
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.
Poisonous ingredients include:
- Corrosive alkali
Jewelry cleaners and polishes are sold under various brand names. Some include:
Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.
Jewelry cleaner poisoning can cause symptoms in many parts of the body.
AIRWAYS AND LUNGS
- Breathing difficulty (from breathing in chemicals)
- Throat swelling (may also cause breathing difficulty)
EYES, EARS, NOSE, AND THROAT
- Severe pain in the throat
- Severe pain or burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips, or tongue
- Vision loss
- Abdominal pain (severe)
- Bloody stools
- Burns and possible holes of the esophagus (food pipe)
- Vomiting, possibly with blood
HEART AND BLOOD
- Low blood pressure (develops rapidly)
- Severe change in blood acid level (leads to organ damage)
- Holes in the skin or underlying tissues
Get medical help right away. 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.
Before Calling Emergency
Get the following information:
- The person's age, weight, and condition
- The name of the product (and ingredients and strengths, if known)
- The time it was swallowed
- The amount swallowed
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. 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.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
The health care 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:
- Breathing support, including a tube through the mouth into the lungs, and a breathing machine (ventilator)
- Bronchoscopy: camera down the throat to see burns in the airways and lungs
- Chest x-ray
EKG (heart tracing)
- Endoscopy: camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach
- Fluids through a vein (IV)
- Medicines to treat pain
- Surgical removal of burned skin (skin debridement)
- Washing of the skin (irrigation), perhaps every few hours for several days
How well a person does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment was received. The faster a person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.
Jewelry cleaner can cause severe burns to the inside of the gastrointestinal tract. Extensive damage to the mouth, throat, eyes, lungs, esophagus, nose, and stomach are possible. The ultimate outcome depends on the extent of this damage. Damage continues to occur to the esophagus and stomach for several weeks after the poison was swallowed, and death may occur as long as a month later.
Wax PM, Young A. Caustics. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls, RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 153.
- Last reviewed on 11/4/2015
- Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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