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Isopropyl Alcohol Ingestion

The three most common forms of alcohol poisoning are ethanol, methanol, and isopropanol (isopropal alcohol). Ingesting these types of alcohol can have horrible and life threatening consequences.

It is important to be able to recognize these forms of alcohol poisoning and their symptoms because prompt treatment is essential to survival. The internal organs are most severely effected depending on how much and which type of alcohol is consumed. Isopropal Alcohol Ingestion is specifically dangerous due to it’s high potency.


Isopropanol is found in OTC rubbing alcohol (70% isopropanol), antifreeze, skin lotions, and some home cleaning products.

Death from ingestion of isopropanol is uncommon. Isopropanol has 2-3 times the potency of ethanol and causes hypotension and CNS and respiratory depression more readily than ethanol. Peak levels occur approximately 30 minutes after ingestion because of rapid GI absorption, which is delayed in the presence of food. Isopropanol is a CNS and cardiac depressant with about twice the potency of ethanol. Serum levels more than 400 mg/dL are potentially fatal.

Approximately 20-50% of isopropanol is excreted unchanged by the kidney, while 50-80% is converted in the liver to acetone, which is a CNS depressant in its own right. Acetone is excreted primarily by the kidneys, with some excretion through the lungs. The elimination half-life of isopropanol is 4-6 hours; that of acetone is 16-20 hours. The prolonged CNS depression seen with isopropanol ingestion is partially related to acetone’s CNS depressant effects.”

Source: www.emedicine.com

Isopropanol Alcohol Ingestion can cause severe GI hemorrhage, refractory hypotension, and hemolytic anemia.

Although most cases of Isopropal Alcohol ingestion are accidental and by younger children there are cases of adults ingesting isopropal alcohol in suicide attempts, for recreation and misuse by alcoholics desperate for alcohol. If you suspect someone abusing isopropyl alcohol contact 911. For alcoholics please have an intervention and suggest they seek alcohol abuse treatment.