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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 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.

Poisonous Ingredient

Sodium bisulfate

Where Found

  • Household cleaners
  • Metal finishing
  • Swimming pool pH additives

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.

Symptoms

Symptoms from swallowing more than a tablespoon of this acid may include:

  • Burning pain in the mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe low blood pressure

If the chemical touches your skin, symptoms may include:

  • Blisters
  • Burns
  • Painful, red skin

If it gets in your eyes, you may have:

  • Decreased vision
  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness and tearing

Home Treatment

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 patient 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 for at least 15 minutes.

If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move him or her to fresh air.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following information:

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

Poison Control, or a local emergency number

In the United States, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak with a local poison control center. 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. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

What to expect at the emergency room

The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The patient may receive:

  • Endoscopy -- camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach
  • Pain medicines
  • Treatments to water down (dilute) the acid

Expectations (prognosis)

Damage to the esophagus may occur as late as 2 to 3 weeks after swallowing the poison. Death may occur up to 1 month after swallowing the poison. Those who recover may have continued stomach or esophagus problems.

Updated: 1/30/2013

Eric Perez, MD, St. Luke's / Roosevelt Hospital Center, NY, NY, and Pegasus Emergency Group (Meadowlands and Hunterdon Medical Centers), NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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