Will alcohol cure antifreeze poisoning?

Get help from Toxicology right away if you suspect poisoning. First Aid for Poisoning, Especially Button Batteries · Help & FAQ · Batteries · Food Poisoning.

Will alcohol cure antifreeze poisoning?

Get help from Toxicology right away if you suspect poisoning. First Aid for Poisoning, Especially Button Batteries · Help & FAQ · Batteries · Food Poisoning. Antifreeze is a liquid that prevents the radiator in cars from freezing or overheating. It is also known as an engine coolant.

Although water-based, the antifreeze also contains liquid alcohols such as ethylene glycol, propylene glycol and methanol. People add antifreeze to vehicle radiators to prevent liquid coolant inside from freezing and overheating. Antifreeze typically contains ethylene glycol, methanol and propylene glycol. Although these substances themselves are relatively non-toxic, they are rapidly metabolized by the body into highly toxic alcohol by-products.

The two antidotes for ethylene glycol poisoning are a drug called fomepizole or ethanol, the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. The reported case describes the treatment of ethylene glycol poisoning using oral ethyl alcohol as an alternative to the recommended intravenous ethyl alcohol and fomepizole that are not available for use in India. Pascal Gelperowicz at Mackay Base Hospital where the man was taken for treatment said he was given pharmaceutical-grade alcohol upon arrival, but that hospital supplies soon ran out. However, since the above-mentioned drugs are not authorized for use in India, we administered oral ethyl alcohol as an alternative treatment for our patient who had accidentally ingested ethylene glycol.

The reported case highlights the importance of oral therapy with ethyl alcohol when intravenous ethyl alcohol and fomepizole are not available. The dose of alcohol for a medium-sized dog is equivalent to approximately 8 shots of vodka every 4-6 hours and you can expect to see the consequences of alcohol poisoning.

Kendra Whirry
Kendra Whirry

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