Ethylene Glycol Toxicity Clinical Presentation

Updated: Dec 05, 2017
  • Author: Daniel C Keyes, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Sage W Wiener, MD  more...
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Presentation

History

As with all poisonings, ascertain the nature of the oral ingestion by talking with the patient or parents. Points to cover include the following:

  • The timing of ingestion is important.

  • The product involved is important. Try to obtain the original container of the ingested substance to confirm its identity.

  • Determine the timing and quantity of liquor or other ethanol ingestion.

  • Initially, patients may be asymptomatic; with time they will develop altered mental status and tachypnea.

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Physical

See the list below:

  • After an adequate airway is ensured, monitor vital signs, including temperature.

  • Deep and rapid breathing may be Kussmaul respirations, which are indicative of severe metabolic acidosis.

  • Assess for altered mental status.

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Causes

Causes of ethylene glycol poisoning include the following:

  • Suicide attempts

  • Unintentional ingestions (mainly observed in children)

  • Workplace beverage-container mix-ups

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