Incense poisoning

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Incense poisoning can occur if an individual accidentally or intentionally swallows the compound. Aside from ingestion, poisoning can occur from inhalation of the fumes.

An incense is an aromatic material that is burned for religious or ceremonial purposes. There are 2 forms available – direct and indirect burning. Most incense are available in various forms such as coils, sticks or other shapes while some are available in liquid.

If the liquid form is ingested, it is considered dangerous. In case of inhalation, especially in poorly ventilated area, it can lead to difficulty breathing. Take note that the components present in incense might be synthetic or natural plant-based.


Incense poisoning
Remember though not to provide anything by mouth if the individual has diminished level of alertness or vomiting.

The signs of incense poisoning tend to vary in every case. The symptoms that might manifest range from minor to severe. It also depends on the form of chemical involved.

The typical indications of incense poisoning might include the following:

  • Burning sensation and pain in the throat and mouth that might also affect the ears, nose and eyes.
  • Respiratory issues especially if the individual inhaled significant amounts of the fumes
  • Headache
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Watery or blood-streaked stools
  • Abdominal pain along with cramping sensations
  • Diminished level of alertness or response
  • Sleepiness
  • Difficulty walking or poorly coordinated movements
  • Individual appears “drunk” or agitated
  • Seizures
  • Coma

How is incense poisoning treated?

Similar with other types of poisoning, the management for incense poisoning involves the following:

  • Call for emergency assistance once an individual is suspected with poisoning. You can also call poison control center so that instructions can be given on what to do.
  • Transfer the individual away from the area of exposure, preferably an area with fresh air right away.
  • Assess the individual if he/she is breathing and has a pulse rate.
  • If the eyes or the skin was exposed, thoroughly wash the area with large amounts of water for a few minutes to get rid of any leftover compounds.
  • Induced vomiting should not be done unless instructed by a healthcare professional to do so.
  • In some cases, water or milk can be given right after ingestion of the substance. Remember though not to provide anything by mouth if the individual has diminished level of alertness or vomiting.

Once the individual is taken to a healthcare facility, further treatment can be started if needed. If possible, bring the container or bottle of the incense along.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on incense poisoning is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the signs of poisoning by taking a standard first aid course with Victoria First Aid.

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