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Merbromin overdose

Definition

Mebromin is a germ-killing (antiseptic) liquid. Mebromin overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally swallows this substance.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Alternative Names

Cinfacrom poisoning; Mercurochrome poisoning; Stellachrome poisoning

Poisonous Ingredient

Merbromin

Where Found

Merbromin is found in some antiseptics. A common brand name is Mercurochrome. Mercury-containing compounds like this have not been legally sold in the United States since 1998.

Symptoms

Bladder and kidneys:

  • Decreased urine output (may stop completely)

Eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and throat:

Gastrointestinal system:

  • Diarrhea (bloody)
  • Stomach pain (severe)
  • Vomiting

Heart and blood:

Lungs:

  • Breathing difficulty (severe)

Nervous system

  • Dizziness
  • Memory problems
  • Problems with balance and coordination
  • Speech difficulties

Home Care

Get medical help right away. Do NOT make the person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following:

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

Poison Control What to Expect at the Emergency Room

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called 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.

See: Poison control center - emergency number

The health care provider will measure and monitor your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. You may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Breathing support, including tube through the mouth into the lungs, and breathing machine (ventilator)
  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Laxative
  • Medicine (antidote) to reverse the effect of the poison
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well you do depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance is for recovery.

If you take medicine to reverse the poison (antidote) within 1 week, recovery is usually likely. If the poisoning has occurred over a long period of time, some mental and nervous system problems may be permanent.

References

Baum CR. Mercury: Heavy metal and inorganic agents. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 71.

Linakis JG, Skarbek-Borowska S. Toxicologic issues in the neonate. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 18.


Review Date: 2/1/2014
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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