Oven cleaner poisoning

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Definition

This article discusses the harmful effects from swallowing or breathing in an oven cleaner.

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 Ingredient

Corrosive alkalis

Where Found

Oven cleaners are sold under various brand names. Some include:

  • Easy-Off oven cleaner
  • Mr. Muscle oven and grill cleaner

This list is not all-inclusive.

Symptoms

Oven cleaner poisoning can cause symptoms in many parts of the body.

AIRWAYS AND LUNGS

  • Breathing difficulty. From breathing in fumes.
  • 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

STOMACH AND INTESTINES

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloody stools
  • Burns and possible holes of the esophagus (food pipe)
  • Vomiting, possibly bloody

HEART AND BLOOD

  • Collapse
  • Low blood pressure -- develops rapidly
  • Severe change in blood acid level -- leads to organ damage

SKIN

  • Burns
  • Holes in the skin or underlying tissues
  • Irritation

Home Care

Get medical help right away. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care provider.

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 provider.

If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move them to fresh air.

Before Calling Emergency

Get the following information:

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

Poison Control

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 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.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.

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:

  • Breathing support, including a tube through the mouth into the lungs and a breathing machine (ventilator).
  • Bronchoscopy. Camera placed down the throat to see burns in the airways and lungs.
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (heart tracing)
  • Endoscopy. Camera placed down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach.
  • Fluids through a vein (IV)
  • Oxygen
  • Pain medicines
  • Surgical removal of burned skin (skin debridement)
  • Washing of the skin (irrigation). Perhaps every few hours for several days.

Outlook (Prognosis)

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.

Swallowing such poisons can have severe effects on many parts of the body. Oven cleaners can cause severe burns inside the entire gastrointestinal tract. The ultimate outcome depends on the extent of this damage, which can continue for weeks or months after the injury.

References

Wax PM, Young A. Caustics. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 153.

Version Info

  • 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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