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Aspirin Poisoning (cont.)

Aspirin Poisoning Treatment

The treatment of aspirin poisoning has three objectives:

  1. To prevent further absorption of aspirin into the body
  2. To correct dehydration and acid-base abnormalities
  3. To reduce the amount of salicylate within the body by increasing the rate at which the body can get rid of it

Gastric lavage may be beneficial, unless contraindicated, up to 60 minutes after salicylate ingestion. Warmed (38 C or 100.4 F) isotonic sodium chloride solution may be used. The airway should be protected before gastric lavage.

Dialysis is another way to reduce the amount of salicylate in the body. The same technique that helps patients with kidney failure rid their bodies of toxins can also be used to quickly eliminate aspirin from the body of a person who has been poisoned with aspirin.

Many doctors recommend a toxicologist be consulted for aspirin overdose.

Medications for Aspirin Poisoning

Activated charcoal: To prevent more absorption, the doctor may give charcoal to absorb the salicylate from the stomach. A laxative may be given with the activated charcoal to move the mixture through the gastrointestinal system more rapidly. People who have been severely poisoned may be given repeated doses of activated charcoal.

IV fluids: Dehydration occurs early in aspirin poisoning. To correct dehydration, the doctor will start an IV to correct this imbalance. The doctor will also work to correct imbalances in the body's blood chemistries.

Alkaline diuresis: This is a way to reduce the amount of salicylate in the body. Alkaline diuresis is the process of giving a person who has been poisoned compounds that alter the chemistry of the blood and urine in a way that allows the kidneys to remove more salicylate. Specifically, sodium bicarbonate is given via IV to make the blood and urine less acidic (more alkaline), which encourages the kidneys to capture more salicylate that can leave the body through the urine. Sometimes, other compounds, such as potassium, also have to be given to help with this process and help prevent hypokalemia.

Aspirin Poisoning Other Therapy

The emergency physician may have to perform other procedures or give other medications as supportive care in the case of dangerous aspirin overdose. These actions may include the following:

  • Placing a breathing tube (intubation) and assisting breathing with a ventilator for a person who is agitated, in a coma, who cannot protect their own airway, or for whom mechanical breathing could be helpful
  • Placement of a catheter into the bladder to monitor urine output and frequently check the acidity (pH) of the urine
  • Administration of other medications as may be needed to treat agitation, convulsions (seizures), or other complications of aspirin poisoning
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/17/2016
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Toxicity, Salicylate »

The use of salicylates dates back 2500 years to when Hippocrates recommended the use of willow bark to relieve the pain of childbirth.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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