How to Save Life through
Proper Management of Methanol Alcohol Poisoning
Methanol is also known as methyl alcohol. It is used in several ways such as a windshield washing fluid, an industrial solvent, antifreeze, household solvent (paint remover), food addictive, and in perfumes. It is also found in form of acid copolymers in products such as hair styling products, diapers, toothpaste and mascara. Methanol can poison people when they inhale methanol vapors or when ingested accidentally or in alcohol.
Chemical suppliers and formic acid suppliers should ensure their employees are aware of the risk of ingestion and have clearly laid out plans on dealing with the ingestion. Unfortunately, it is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract a short time after taking it in. After ingestion, it takes between 3 and 4 hours for methyl alcohol to be absorbed in the body. You should therefore act promptly after ingestion. The best way to deal with the poisoning is to reverse the metabolic acidosis as soon as possible.
How does it happen?
After one absorbs methanol, it is metabolized through alcohol dehydrogenase in the liver to form formaldehyde. The formaldehyde is metabolized further through aldehyde dehydrogenase to form formic acid. Most metabolic acidosis and ingestion related damage is caused by formic acid as it is a toxin. The lungs and kidneys help to eliminate some of the formic acid from the body. The acid is metabolized slowly into water and carbon dioxide through tetrahydrofolate.
So how much is toxic?
Methyl alcohol is considered toxic when one takes in more than 30ml of the acid. The level of toxicity is determined by related ingestion amongst other factors. The level of methyl in the blood determines the seriousness of the toxin in the body. If the level of methyl alcohol in the blood is 20 mg/dl or more, it is considered toxic. The level of toxicity can also be influenced by the presence of live diseases and the availability and production of alcohol dehydrogenase.
Symptoms of methyl alcohol poisoning
The symptoms are experienced in various body systems such as cardiopulmonary, neurologic, ocular and gastrointestinal. In the neurologic systems, the person may experience seizures, tinnitus, headache, paresthesia, and inconsistent level of consciousness. The poisoning displays itself as bradycardia, dyspnea, hypertension, tachypnea, and kussmaul respirations. In most cases, the patient vomits or experiences nausea.
As for the ocular, the person has blurred vision, progressive vision loss or double vision depending on the extent if the poisoning. Metabolites and methanol causes damage of basal ganglia a condition with parkinsonian-like symptoms. More than half of people who with methanol poisoning suffer from hemorrhagic pancreatitis. Unfortunately, if the poisoning is serious, it leads to death. Chemical suppliers should include a warning of the dangers of ingesting methanol on their packaging materials.
Managing Methanol Alcohol poisoning
If you find someone unconscious and you are sure they have ingested methanol, first try and find out the type of alcoholic drink or form of methanol they have ingested. If it is methanol, give the patient 4 oz of whisky or brandy. This helps to inactivate the metabolism because alcohol dehydrogenase is more attracted to ethyl alcohol than methyl alcohol. It is best to take the patient to hospital where doctors can carry out various tests to determine the best treatment plan. Urinalysis, blood pH and liver function tests are some of the most important tests. Choose a hospital with facilities or hemodialysis. If the person has convulsions, arrhythmia, shock, or heart failure, urgent medical care should be given.