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Mouthwash overdose

Alternative names

This poisoning from an overdose of mouthwash.

Poisonous Ingredient

Ethanol (drinking alcohol)

Where Found

  • Listerine
  • Many other mouthwashes


  • Body as a whole
    • Collapse
    • Convulsions
    • Excessive sweating
    • Excessive thirst
    • Listing from side to side
    • Decreased urine output
    • Slurred speech
    • Unable to walk in a normal manner
    • Low blood sugar
  • Respiratory
    • Deep breathing - may be rapid
    • Rapid breathing - may be shallow
    • Slowed respirations
    • Stopped breathing
  • Skin
    • Bluish skin (lips and fingernails)
  • Gastrointestinal
    • Abdominal pain
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heart and blood vessels
    • Drop in blood pressure
  • Nervous system
    • Coma
    • Dizziness
    • Drowsiness

Home Treatment

Call Poison Control. Seek emergency medical care immediately.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following:
  • The patient's age, weight, and condition
  • The name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
  • The time it was swallowed
  • The amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number

See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room

Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:
  • Use gastric lavage .
  • Administer activated charcoal.
  • Administer a laxative.
  • Establish and maintain airway.
  • Monitor blood alcohol levels.
  • Admit to the hospital or the intensive care unit.
  • Kidney dialysis.

Expectations (prognosis)

If the patient survives the first 24 hours without any major problems, survival is very likely. Poisoning symptoms will be from ethyl alcohol, and not as likely from the other agents mentioned.

Update Date: 2/12/2004

Cherlin Johnson, M.D., Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT