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Mouthwash overdose

Mouthwash overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally takes more than the normal or recommended amount of this substance.

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

Listerine overdose; Antiseptic mouth rinse overdose

Poisonous Ingredient


  • Chlorhexidine gluconate
  • Ethanol (ethyl alcohol)
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Methyl salicylate

Where Found

Many brands of mouthwash.

Symptoms


  • Abdominal pain
  • Burns and damage to the clear covering of the front of the eye (cornea)
  • Coma
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Low body temperature
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Skin redness and pain
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Throat pain
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Unconsciousness
  • Unresponsive reflexes
  • Urination problems (too much or too little urine)
  • Vomiting (may contain blood)

Home Care

Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following:

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

Poison Control

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 your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. You may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Breathing support, including a tube through the mouth and breathing machine (ventilator)
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (heart tracing)
  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Kidney dialysis (in serious cases)
  • Laxative
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage )

You may be admitted to the hospital.

Outlook (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. Drinking large amounts of mouthwash may lead to a syndrome similar to alcohol intoxication.

References

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 Mosby; 2013:chap 153.

Finnell, JT. Alcohol-related disease. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al., eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 185.

Updated: 1/19/2014

Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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