sulfuric acid poisoning

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Related to sulfuric acid poisoning: nitric acid poisoning, hydrogen sulfide poisoning

sulfuric acid poisoning

Poisoning from contact with, or ingestion of, sulfuric acid, e.g., in laboratories, agriculture, or weapons manufacturing.


Early local effects of acid injury, e.g., necrosis of the skin or the upper gastrointestinal tract, result from direct contact of sulfuric acid with the epithelium. The patient may complain of intense pain, e.g., in the mouth or throat. If acid contacts the eye, it may cause pain and corneal injury, sometimes resulting in blindness. Several days to 2 weeks after massive acid ingestion, perforation of internal organs may occur. When the stomach is involved, the perforation may leak acid into the mediastinum or peritoneum, causing pain, dyspnea, hypotension, tachycardia, or shock.


Exposed surfaces should be promptly washed in water to dilute the concentration of acid and minimize the depth of acid penetration. If the airway is compromised, the patient should be immediately intubated and ventilated, before undergoing dilutional therapy. Activated charcoal, which is helpful in many other exposures, is not useful. Neutralizing substances such as diluted alkalies are probably not helpful.

Most patients who ingest significant quantities of acid will undergo upper gastrointestinal endoscopy to evaluate the extent of the acid burn. Strictures, e.g., esophageal strictures, that develop as a result of scarring from acid burns are treated with dilation. People with ocular exposures need immediate ophthalmological consultation. Immediate surgery is warranted for patients with internal organ perforation.acids in


Blind nasogastric intubation is generally contraindicated because it may damage the upper gastrointestinal tract. Gastric intubation and lavage should be performed by experienced endoscopists.
See also: poisoning
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