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Does drinking ethylene glycol cause death?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 1991
Answered : 2801 Questions
if i drink antifreeze will it be a slow and painful death
Wed, 30 May 2018 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 7 minutes later
If you are considering self harm, please call or go in to the ER where someone can talk with you and help you.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Does drinking ethylene glycol cause death? 12 minutes later
no just wondering
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 28 minutes later
Brief Answer:

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

Antifreeze is ethylene glycol, which is toxic to the body. It would affect the body in 3 stages:

Stage 1 From the time of ingestion until about 12 hours, there is central nervous system depression. This does not mean feeling psychologically depressed. It means the brain's functions are depressed such as with slurred speech.

A metabolite of the ethylene glycol starts forming at around 4 hours, causing metabolic acidosis. This can cause seizures, nausea, and vomiting.

Stage 2 In the next 12 hours, there can be effects on the cardiovascular system such as heart rate racing, fast breathing, high or low blood pressure, lung inflammation, heart failure, and shock.

Stage 3 (Renal toxicity phase)
Kidney damage usually develops 24-72 hours after exposure. Acidosis and acute renal failure may result from deposition of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys.

There is treatment for intoxication with ethylene glycol in the acute phases (fomepizole) and intensive care support. But part of whether a person survives is how much they ingested and the speed of medical support they receive.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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