Caustic soda poisoning

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Caustic soda is a chemical compound in a colorless and odorless crystal powder. It is commonly called as lye and has a variety of commercial, domestic and industrial uses. The compound is used in detergents and soaps, dyes, textiles, pulp and paper products, petroleum products and even explosives.

Poisoning can occur accidentally or intentionally after ingestion of any product that includes caustic soda. Remember that the chemical is potent and can result to serious injury on areas that were exposed.

The skin and eyes might be directly exposed to caustic soda. If in powder form, it might be inhaled which triggers respiratory issues. Caustic soda is typically found in oven, drain and aquarium cleaners, hair relaxers, bleaches and metal cleaning solutions.

What are the signs?

The indications of caustic soda poisoning tend to vary for each case with symptoms that range from mild to severe. Remember that different body systems can be affected.

The usual signs that might arise include the following:

Caustic soda poisoning
Significant damage along the GI tract including the stomach with intense stomach pain.
  • Sneezing
  • Lung inflammation
  • Difficulty breathing if the fumes of caustic soda solution or powder was inhaled.
  • Serious burning sensation and discomfort in the throat, mouth and esophagus along with drooling from the mouth
  • Significant damage along the GI tract including the stomach with intense stomach pain
  • Vision loss
  • Serious irritation and burns on the skin
  • Blood in the vomit and stool
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shock
  • Collapse
  • Drastic changes in the blood pH value that affects different parts of the body

How is caustic soda poisoning managed?

Initially, call for emergency assistance if an individual is suspected with caustic soda poisoning.

  • The individual should be moved away from the site of exposure, preferably to an area with fresh air. Check if the individual is breathing and has a pulse rate.
  • If caustic soda was swallowed, provide milk to drink right away. If the individual is vomiting or has reduced level of alertness, do not provide anything by mouth.
  • Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by a healthcare professional.

Once the individual is taken to the nearest healthcare facility, bring along the bottle or container of caustic soda along.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on caustic soda poisoning is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the indications, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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