bleach ingestion

11 Aug

QUICK PEARLS:

Liquid bleach is dilute 3%-6% sodium hypochlorite with a pH of around 11 – and is minimally corrosive at household bleach levels. 

Small ingestions of household bleach usually results in no damage and patients are asymptomatic. 

It is most helpful if the family can bring the bottle or take a picture of the bottle to confirm that the material was solely household bleach. 

 

Industrial strength bleach on the other hand has much higher concentration of sodium hypochlorite and may result in gastric and esophageal necrosis. 

Emesis may lead to aspiration or chemical pneumonitis.

Industrial bleach may need admission, observation, and possible endoscopy. 

 

Household bleach patients without symptoms may be discharged with early follow up.

 

Submitted by J. Stone.

 

References: (Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine 7th ed. Ch. 194 Caustics); picture

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