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Eucalyptus oil overdose

Definition

Eucalyptus oil overdose occurs when someone swallows a large amount of a product that contains this oil. This can be by accident or on purpose.

This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual overdose. If you or someone you are with has an overdose, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

Eucalyptus oil can be harmful in large amounts.

Where Found

Eucalyptus oil is an ingredient in many over-the-counter products, including some:

  • Medicated rubs and liniments
  • Diaper rash creams
  • Inhalers to relieve nasal congestion
  • Medicine for sore gums, mouth, and throat
  • Mouthwashes

Other products may also contain eucalyptus oil.

Symptoms

Below are symptoms of a eucalyptus oil overdose in different parts of the body.

AIRWAYS AND LUNGS

  • Rapid breathing
  • Shallow breathing
  • Wheezing

EYES, EARS, NOSE, THROAT, AND MOUTH

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Burning sensation in mouth
  • Tiny pupils

HEART AND BLOOD

MUSCLES AND JOINTS

NERVOUS SYSTEM

SKIN 

  • Redness and swelling (from the oil touching the skin)

STOMACH AND INTESTINES

Home Care

Seek medical help right away. DO NOT make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to.

If the oil is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.

Before Calling Emergency

Have this information ready:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product (ingredients and strength, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

Poison Control

Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

Take the container to the hospital with you, if possible.

The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.

Tests that may done include:

  • Blood and urine tests
  • ECG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
Treatment may include:
  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Medicines to treat symptoms
  • Activated charcoal
  • Laxative
  • Tube through the nose into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
  • Breathing support, including a tube through the mouth into the lungs and connected to a breathing machine (ventilator)

Outlook (Prognosis)

Survival past 48 hours is usually a good sign that recovery will occur. If any damage to the kidneys has occurred, it may take several months to heal. Drowsiness may persist for several days.

References

Aronson JK. Myrtaceae. In: Aronson JK, ed. Meyler's Side Effects of Drugs. 16th ed. Waltham, MA: Elsevier; 2016:1159-1160.

Lim CS, Aks SE. Plants, mushrooms, and herbal medications. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 158.


Review Date: 10/7/2017
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Emeritus, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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