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First Aid for Household Glue Poisoning

Last updated Feb. 28, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Household Glue Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of any product containing the compound. The exposure may be through inhalation, skin or eye contact, or following ingestion of the chemical.

What is Household Glue Poisoning?

  • Household glues and adhesives constitute a wide range of commercial products that are used to fix broken items or repair accidental breakages
  • Household Glue Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of any product containing the compound. The exposure may be through inhalation, skin or eye contact, or following ingestion of the chemical
  • 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)

Household Glue Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:

  • Elmer's Glue-All Poisoning
  • Glue Poisoning
  • Household Adhesive Poisoning
  • Household Glue Toxicity

What are the Causes of Household Glue Poisoning?

  • Household Glue Poisoning is caused by the ingestion of household glues and adhesives (usually in liquid form). The exposure may also be through direct skin and eye contact, or upon inhaling the vapors
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • Even though most household glues are non-toxic, some of the toxic chemicals present in them could be ethyl alcohol, toluene and xylene, naphtha, and N-hexane (a colorless chemical)

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 Household Glue Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Household Glue Poisoning can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. Several systems of the body may be affected.

The signs and symptoms of inhaling (sniffing) household glue may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting; appetite loss
  • Runny nose, congestion
  • Respiratory difficulties and respiratory failure (low level of oxygen in blood)
  • Headache
  • Feeling dizzy or drowsy
  • Feeling anxious, over-excitement, or the individual’s act ‘drunk’
  • Lack of coordinated movements, walking difficulties
  • Seizures may occur from inhaling the chemical vapors in enormous quantities
  • Coma

The signs and symptoms of swallowing the chemical include:

  • Stomach and abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Obstruction of the intestine
  • Eye irritation and pain on contact with the substance; blurry vision

How is First Aid administered for Household Glue Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Household Glue 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
  • 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
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
  • Always try to take the compound 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 and seizures
  • 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
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line

Who should administer First Aid for Household Glue Poisoning?

First aid for Household Glue Poisoning is administered by healthcare professionals.

  • The individual who is affected, 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 Household Glue Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Household Glue Poisoning is dependent on the type and 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, with appropriate medication and early support, the outcome is generally good. In most cases, the prognosis is good
  • However, severe poisoning can result in serious complications and the prognosis can be ascertained only on a case-by-case basis

In general, toxicities are common situations in the emergency departments. A majority of the cases are often not fatal, when appropriate treatment is given.

How can Household Glue Poisoning be Prevented?

Household Glue Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • Always following instructions for usage of any health, cosmetic, or 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
  • Being 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, amount and time of consumption of the substance
    • Age and weight of the individual
    • And, the overall health status of the individual

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: July 29, 2017
Last updated: Feb. 28, 2018