What Are the Symptoms of Antifreeze Poisoning?

High blood pressure may be a side effect of ingesting antifreeze.
Antifreeze poisoning occurs when an individual ingests antifreeze.
Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning may include abdominal pain.
Antifreeze poisoning is a threat to dogs and cats, who seem to enjoy its sweet taste.
Article Details
  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Ethylene glycol poisoning, or antifreeze poisoning, occurs when a person or animal ingests antifreeze, a substance used in vehicle engines. During the first few hours after ingesting this substance, a person may have gastrointestinal problems and act intoxicated. As the body breaks the substance down further, high blood pressure and muscle spasms may also occur. Kidney and urination problems are also common symptoms of antifreeze poisoning.

Antifreeze is a substance used in vehicle radiators to lower the temperature of the engine. Ethylene glycol is used in most antifreeze on the market today. If ingested by a human, either accidentally or intentionally, this compound can cause a variety of side effects. It can be fatal in many cases.

Within the first few hours to a day after ingesting the substance, antifreeze can cause various gastrointestinal problems. Nausea and abdominal pain are common symptoms of poisoning, for instance. Some people may vomit as well.

People suffering from this kind of poisoning may also act as though they are intoxicated. They may be uncoordinated or confused. Slurred speech and dizziness are also common symptoms of ethylene glycol intoxication.

As time passes, the body begins to break down the ethylene glycol even further, and different symptoms of the poison will become apparent. High blood pressure and muscle spasms may occur, along with breathing problems and irregular heartbeats. Some people will die at this point, if the poisoning is not treated, and organs may begin to shut down in others.

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The kidneys are the organs most affected by this type of poisoning. Kidney problems will usually begin a few days after the antifreeze has been ingested. Pain may be felt in the sides of the lower back, where the kidneys are located. Some people experiencing poisoning from antifreeze may also have very little urine, or blood may be present in their urine.

Antifreeze can be ingested either accidentally or intentionally. Since most antifreeze has a bright color and a sweet taste, children are especially attracted to it. Most parents are cautioned to keep antifreeze out of reach of children to avoid poisoning. In a few instances, some people have even attempted to commit suicide by ingesting antifreeze.

Cats and dogs are also very susceptible to antifreeze poisoning. Like children, they seem to be attracted to the sweet taste of the substance. Antifreeze poisoning in pets will often lead to seizures, convulsions, and death.

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Discuss this Article

Feryll
Post 4

Most people know they should be careful not to spill antifreeze when they are filling their cars with the coolant, and they know to clean up any spills when they happen. They also know about storing the unused antifreeze so that kids and animals will not get to it.

What many people don't know is that antifreeze that has run through your car is just as deadly and just as much of a danger as fresh antifreeze. You would think that old dirty antifreeze would not be something that kids or animals would think of putting in their mouths, but they do.

Antifreeze leaks are more likely to cause poisoning than spills because we are more likely to immediately clean up the spills.

Sporkasia
Post 3

Because of all the cases of accidental antifreeze poisoning in dogs and cats, companies that make antifreeze have begun adding something new to the products. I can't remember whether they are adding something to change the taste or the smell or both, but I did read that they are trying to make antifreeze less attractive for animals to drink.

I think this additive also makes antifreeze easier to detect in humans.

mobilian33
Post 2

I saw a TV show about a real life wife who used antifreeze poisoning to kill her husband. According to the show, antifreeze is difficult to detect when doctors do tests and most people who die from this type of poisoning never know what happened to cause the sickness.

This is also supposed to be one of the most painful ways to die. The article mentions that some people have used antifreeze to commit suicide. I definitely don't understand why you would want to drink something that is going to affect your body the way antifreeze does and cause so much pain. There are easier and quicker ways to die if that's what you have your mind set on.

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