DON’T BE BASIC—Caustic Ingestions

Jonathan Eisenberg, MD

It would seem a poor idea to take medical advice from non-medical professionals, for example a president with no formal scientific background, in the realm of toxic and caustic ingestions. Although cola soda should be considered caustic, the true dangers lie mostly underneath the kitchen sink and bathroom. Acid and Base ingestions are reported to be in the range of 5-15 thousand cases per year. There is a bimodal distribution of age groups affected—those under 6 year of age making up a large portion and the other being greater than 21 years of age. The pediatric and adult populations generally have different motivations behind the ingestion—exploration versus self-harm—in the vast majority of cases. Given the difference in volumes ingested in accidental cases, children have lower fatality rates than teenagers or adults. The absence of singular severe symptoms (e.g., oral lesions, vomiting, drooling, dysphagia, hematemesis, dyspnea, abdominal pain) does not reliably indicate future injury or pathology but the presence of three or more symptoms is associated with a higher likelihood of significant injury. read more