Acetone Poisoning

What is acetone poisoning?

Acetone poisoning: Have you ever perceived the smell of the chemical that is used to remove a lady’s nail polish? Women that paint their nails can relate to this. But that chemical itself is not acetone but it contains it. So are other products like the common rubbing alcohol, polish for furniture etc.  When you perceive any of these chemicals, you are actually perceiving acetone. That is how it smells.  It is very volatile. A volatile substance easily evaporates and is very flammable. Perceiving too much of it can cause as much harm to your health. Acetone poisoning mainly comes from the acetone generated in your body. Come on let us explore how it happens.

 

Causes of acetone poisoning

When you eat fatty diets, they are broken down in the liver into ketones. These ketones are organic in nature and are one of the means by which body processes can be fueled. They are of three types. Acetone is one of them.

Overproduction and accumulation of ketones in the body result in ketoacidosis, which is actually what acetone poisoning is. You are even more susceptible to having this ketoacidosis if you are suffering from either of these types of diabetes – type 1 and type 2. This is pretty dangerous to health.

Ketoacidosis can also be caused as a consequence of prolonged starvation. When you don’t eat for a long time, your body fat stores will be recruited to generate fuel for your body to keep you alive. This is because when you are starved; your carbohydrate reserve will be used up. The body fats will be the next source of fuel after carbohydrate. Protein stores are usually the last target in severe starvation. Most persons hardly survive it. So here is the order for body fuel use – carbohydrate, fats, protein. Hope you understand?

So back to acetone poisoning! When fats are broken down in large amounts, ketone concentration in the blood will rise to a dangerous level.

Aside from the acetone produced in large quantities in the body resulting in acetone poisoning, other factors which cause you to ingest acetone can be responsible. Let us look at some of them. When you;

  • Drink alcohol until you become intoxicated.
  • Overly exposed to some paints in restricted areas.
  • Unknowingly drink cleaning agents containing acetone
  • Drink nail polish remover

 

Acetone poisoning

Photo Credit: New Health Guide

 

Symptoms of acetone poisoning

Acetone poisoning is rare because for it to be very strong enough to poison you, you must have been;

  • Exposed to large quantities of it within a very short time either by ingestion or by inhalation
  • Produced extremely large quantities of it within a short while

And even at that, the liver is capable enough to handle the breakdown of large quantities of acetone.

You can easily have acetone poisoning when your liver is overwhelmed or in cases where the liver is dysfunctional.

Mild cases of acetone poisoning will present the following symptoms;

  • Lethargy
  • A headache
  • Uncoordinated speech
  • Mouth having a sweet taste.

In life-threatening cases, hypotension, coma, and serious stupor can occur.

 

Diagnosis of acetone poisoning

Acetone poisoning usually comes with a fruity breath because of the large quantities of ketone in your blood. It is a hallmark of its diagnosis. Although it is quite difficult to test for acetone in the body, acetone poisoning will be confirmed anyway using physical symptoms, urine tests, and blood tests to assess your ketone level. The presence of ketones in the urine is a confirmatory test. The blood test will also determine how acidic the blood is – blood acidosis.

 

Treatment for acetone poisoning

The ultimate aim of any treatment of acetone poisoning is clearing your blood of the excess ketones that caused it in the first place.

To achieve this, your doctor will provide the necessary support while the clearance process is ongoing. Your body will naturally increase your breathing rate. This is to eliminate acids that have piled up in your blood.  This can be facilitated by a breathing tube is inserted into the nose and down into your airways. This process is called intubation.

Intravenous fluids will also be injected into your body to help water down the acid concentration in your blood.  If you are seriously ill, your heart will not be able to pump blood well to supply oxygen to all the tissues and organs of your body.  You will then have to be placed on a blood pressure support to achieve this.

Don’t attempt to induce throwing up if you had ingested the copious amount of acetone. Acetone is an acid and it can harm the lining of your mouth and esophagus and even your skin. Get to see your doctor immediately. It will be pumped out of your stomach if you went to the hospital within an hour of the incidence. Within this time, the acid would not have been quickly absorbed. To do this, a tube will pass through your throat straight to your stomach. Everything will be carefully sucked out. Water and saline will be used to get rid of all of the acetone in your stomach.

But this stomach pumping has a risk – accidental aspiration pneumonia. It is the result of accidentally pumping of water into the lungs rather than into the stomach. This can cause “drowning”

 

How to prevent acetone poisoning

External causes of acetone poisoning can be via contact with the skin, inhaling or ingesting acetone products. These can, therefore, be checked by;

  1. Keeping spaces well exposed to fresh air whenever acetone products are used.
  2. Wearing a face mask to avoid a splash on your face when using acetone products.
  3. Wearing safety glasses to shield the eyes from an acetone attack.
  4. Keeping acetone products away from the grasp of kids.
  5. Storing acetone and its products away from open flames and heaters since they are extremely flammable.

The internal source of production especially if you are diabetic can be controlled if you take to your doctor’s prescription and that includes your diet, lifestyle, and medication. And see your doctor should you experience some changes in your symptoms. He might have to adjust your treatment regimen.

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