What is Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning?
- Ammonium hydroxide is solution of ammonia in water. Ammonia is a gas with a pungent odor that is highly miscible in water
- It is used in food production, tobacco processing, all-purpose cleaners, household cleaning liquid, cosmetics and hair care products, cements, refrigerants, for making industrial chemicals and plastics, etc.
- Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (swallowing, breathing-in, or skin contact) of any product containing the compound
- The condition is diagnosed based upon the clinical history, combination of signs and symptoms, and additional tests (that may include, in some cases, radiological studies and laboratory tests)
Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:
- Ammonia Liquor Poisoning
- Ammonia Solution Poisoning
- Ammonia Water Poisoning
- Ammonical Liquor Poisoning
- Ammonium Hydroxide Toxicity
- Aqua Ammonia Poisoning
- Aqueous Ammonia Poisoning
What are the Causes of Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning?
- Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning is caused by the ingestion, inhalation, or exposure of skin to ammonium hydroxide and ammonium hydroxide based products
- This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
- Ammonium hydroxide is a toxic substance that is found in a variety of cleaning solutions, cosmetics, and cements
Note: The compound can interact with other prescribed or non-prescribed medications in the body. Such interactions may enhance the therapeutic effects of other medications being taken, resulting in undesired side effects.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning?
The signs and symptoms of Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. Several systems of the body, such as the vascular system, digestive system, respiratory system, and ENT may be affected.
The signs and symptoms of Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning may include:
- Coughing, wheezing
- Breathing difficulties, if the fumes of the solution are inhaled
- Severe burning and associated pain in the mouth, throat, and food-pipe (even the stomach may be burnt)
- Severe skin irritation and burns (perforations on the skin may be observed)
- Loss of vision
- Severe stomach pain
- Blood in stool
- Vomiting (blood in vomit)
- Decrease in blood pressure (hypotension)
- Feeling dizzy, lack of coordinated movement
- Low level of alertness
- Severe changes in body pH value affecting many parts of the body
How is First Aid administered for Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning?
First Aid tips for Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning:
- Call 911 or your local emergency help number immediately, for emergency assistance
- Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or your local poison control center) for further instructions
- Provide them with information such as the compound taken, quantity and time of ingestion, age, weight and general health status of affected individual
- Carefully remove the individual from the exposure area; move them to region of fresh air immediately
- Confirm that the airways are protected; also, ensure breathing and the presence of pulse
- If skin exposure or involvement of the eye has occurred, then wash thoroughly with copious amounts of water (for at least 15 minutes)
- Unless instructed by a healthcare professional, DO NOT induce vomiting in the affected individual
- Following an ingestion of the substance, immediately give water or milk to drink
- In case of symptoms that indicate difficulty in swallowing including vomiting or decreased alertness, do not give anything by way of mouth
- Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
- Always try to take the product bottle/container to the ER
The emergency medical health professional might perform the following steps towards treating the condition:
- Medically manage symptoms, such as abnormal heart rate
- Provide breathing support, if necessary
- Wash skin and eyes repeatedly and thoroughly (irrigation), to eliminate any remaining hazardous compound
- Following this, a suitable skin or eye ointment may be used to treat the exposure
- Surgical treatment for skin burns including removal of burnt skin
- Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line
Who should administer First Aid for Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning?
First aid for Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning is administered by healthcare professionals.
- The individual who overdosed, or someone near, should call 911 for emergency assistance (or the local emergency number)
- They should also call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow instructions
What is the Prognosis of Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning?
- The prognosis of Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning is dependent on the amount of substance consumed, time between consumption and treatment, severity of the symptoms, as well as general health status of the patient
- If the individual can recover from the symptoms within 1-2 days, with appropriate medication and early support, the outcome is generally good
- Severe exposure of body organs (throat, gastrointestinal tract including stomach) to the chemical can lead to complications and irreversible damage. In some cases, the damage may progress for weeks and months resulting in death of affected individuals
- If the chemical splashed into the eye, the outcomes depend on the extent of injury; permanent vision loss (in the injured eye) is a possibility
In general, overdoses are common situations in the emergency departments. A majority of the cases are often not fatal, when appropriate treatment is given.
How can Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning be Prevented?
Ammonium Hydroxide Poisoning can be prevented by:
- Always following instructions for usage of any household products
- Keeping any poisonous/hazardous chemicals and other materials out of children’s reach
- Keep all poisons correctly labeled and in suitable storage locations
- Wearing appropriate protective wear when working with such chemicals
- Be aware of basic first aid steps in case of an emergency (such as inadvertent poisoning)
What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?
- Call 911 (or your local emergency number) for emergency assistance, if symptoms are life-threatening
- Call Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow the recommend steps
- It would be helpful if the following information is readily available:
- Type, dosage and time of administration of medication
- Age and weight of the individual
- And, the overall health status of the individual