Pine oil poisoning
Pine oil is a germ-killer and disinfectant. This article discusses poisoning from swallowing pine oil.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
Pine oil (terpenes) is the poisonous ingredient.
Pine oil is found in:
- Various cleaning products
- Some porcelain cleaners
Pine oil poisoning can affect many parts of the body.
EYES, EARS, NOSE, AND THROAT
- Difficulty swallowing
- Throat burning
- Eye burning
- Breathing trouble
HEART AND BLOOD CIRCULATION
Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless you are told to do so by a health care provider or poison control.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:
- The person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of product (as well as the ingredients and strength, if known)
- The time it was swallowed
- The amount swallowed
Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) 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.
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Blood and urine tests will be done. The person may receive:
- Airway and breathing support, including oxygen. In extreme cases, a tube may be passed through the mouth into the lungs to prevent aspiration. A breathing machine (ventilator) would then be needed.
- Chest x-ray.
- ECG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing).
- Endoscopy -- a camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and stomach.
- Fluids through a vein (by IV).
- Laxatives to move the poison quickly through the body.
- Medicines to treat symptoms.
- Surgical removal of burned skin (skin debridement).
- Tube through the mouth into the stomach (rare) to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage).
- Washing of the skin (irrigation), perhaps every few hours for several days.
How well a person does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment was received. Swallowing pine oil can have severe effects on many parts of the body. In most cases, the biggest problem is that pine oil is swallowed (aspirated) into the lungs instead of the stomach, causing breathing problems.
The faster a person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.
Meehan TJ. Approach to the poisoned patient. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 139.
Wang GS, Buchanan JA. Hydrocarbons. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 152.
Reviewed By: Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.