Q:

What happens when you swallow bleach?

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Quick Answer

Depending on the amount consumed, swallowing bleach can lead to sodium hypochlorite poisoning, states MedlinePlus. Swallowing diluted bleach usually leads to mild stomach irritation, but swallowing larger amounts may cause serious symptoms, such as pain in the throat and mouth, burns on the esophagus, delirium, coma and shock.

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Full Answer

Other symptoms of sodium hypochlorite poisoning include red or burning eyes, gagging sensation, chest pain, low blood pressure and slow heart rate, according to MedlinePlus. Stomach or abdominal pain and vomiting may also occur. If bleach is swallowed, immediate medical attention is recommended. If the patient is able to swallow, administer milk or water right away. Do not force the patient to vomit unless directed to do so by a medical professional.

When speaking to emergency medical staff, it is important to know the amount of bleach swallowed and the time of ingestion along with the patient's age, weight and condition, according to MedlinePlus. Patients who swallow bleach generally receive treatment in an emergency room, where they are closely monitored. Depending on the symptoms, treatment can include intravenous fluid, endoscopy and insertion of a tube into the stomach to empty it. With prompt treatment, patients who swallow bleach have a good chance of full recovery.

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