Drainpipe cleaners are chemicals used to clean drainpipes. Drainpipe cleaner poisoning occurs when someone swallows or breathes in (inhales) a drainpipe cleaner.
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.
Lye (sodium hydroxide or caustic soda)
- Some aquarium products
Note: This list may not include all sources of drainpipe cleaners.
- Airways and lungs
- Breathing difficulty (from breathing in drainpipe cleaner)
- Throat swelling (may also cause breathing difficulty)
- Severe change in acid level of blood (pH balance), which leads to damage in all of the body organs
- Eyes, ears, nose, and throat
- Loss of vision
- Severe pain in the throat
- Severe pain or burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips, or tongue
Blood in the stool
- Burns and possible holes (perforation) in the food pipe (esophagus)
- Heart and blood
Low blood pressurethat develops rapidly
- Holes (necrosis) in the skin or tissues underneath
Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.
If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.
If the chemical was swallowed, immediately give the person water or milk, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. Do NOT give water or milk if the patient is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.
If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move him or her to fresh air.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:
- Patient’s age, weight, and condition
- Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
Poison Control, or a local emergency number
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.
What to expect at the emergency room
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:
- Breathing tube
- Bronchoscopy — camera down the throat to see burns in the airways and lungs
- Endoscopy — camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach
- Fluids by IV
- Pain medication
- Surgical removal of burned skin (skin debridement)
- Washing of the skin (irrigation) — perhaps every few hours for several days
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 for recovery.
Swallowing such poisons can have severe effects on many parts of the body. The outcome depends on the extent of this damage.
Damage continues to occur to the esophagus and stomach for several weeks after the poison was swallowed.