Ethylene glycol poisoning

What is ethylene glycol poisoning?

Ethylene glycol poisoning occurs when someone swallows this chemical, which is found in antifreeze and other household products. It is a poisonous substance and can be deadly if not treated quickly. Symptoms of ethylene glycol poisoning typically appear within 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion and can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, confusion, drowsiness, and rapid heart rate.


The most common cause of ethylene glycol poisoning is ingestion. This could be intentional, accidental, or due to contaminated food or water. In some cases, the chemical can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Risk Factors

Ethylene glycol poisoning is most common in young children, who may accidently drink antifreeze. Ethylene glycol is also found in household products like de-icing agents, windscreen washer fluid, oven cleaners, paint thinners, and some cosmetics. Ethylene glycol poisoning can also occur from drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of ethylene glycol poisoning can vary in severity, but typically include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Coma


Treatment of ethylene glycol poisoning includes decontamination, administration of antidotes, supportive care, and monitoring. If the poisoning is identified quickly, it may be treated with an oral antidote or intravenous antidote. If the poisoning has been ongoing for more than 12 hours, it may require an iron chelating agent. The patient may also require supportive care, such as oxygen and intravenous fluids.


The best way to prevent ethylene glycol poisoning is to keep all products containing the chemical out of reach of children. Additionally, it’s important to read product labels carefully and be aware of how to store and use them properly. Finally, always follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully.