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Clinitest tablets poisoning

Clinitest poisoning occurs from swallowing tablets used to test how much blood sugar (glucose) is in a person's urine.

Doctors used to use these tablets to determine how well a person's diabetes was being controlled. These tablets are rarely used today. They are not meant to be swallowed but could be taken by accident since they look like a prescription pill.

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.

Alternative Names

Urine sugar reagent poisoning; Anhydrous Benedict's reagent poisoning

Poisonous Ingredient

  • Copper sulfate
  • Citric acid
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Sodium carbonate

Where Found

The poisonous ingredients are found in Clinitest tablets.

Note: This list may not be all-inclusive.

Symptoms

  • Blood in urine
  • Burns and burning pain in the mouth and throat
  • Collapse
  • Convulsions
  • Diarrhea, may be watery or bloody
  • Low blood pressure
  • No urine output
  • Pain during a bowel movement (passing stool)
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Throat swelling (causes breathing trouble)
  • Vomiting

Home Treatment

This type of poisoning requires immediate medical help.

Do NOT make a person throw up. (They may do so on their own.)

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 orange juice. Do NOT give water if the patient is vomiting or has a decreased level of alertness.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following information:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • The name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
  • When it was swallowed
  • The amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called 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.

See: Poison control center - emergency number

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. The patient may receive:

  • Breathing support, including breathing tube
  • Bronchoscopy -- camera down the throat to see burns in the airways and lungs
  • Endoscopy -- camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach
  • Fluids through a vein (IV)
  • Medications to treat severe pain

Expectations (prognosis)

How well you do depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

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. Death is possible.

References

Wax PM, Yarema M. Corrosives. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 98.

Updated: 2/2/2012

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 David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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