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Isopropanol Poisoning, Emergency Medicine

Paul Kolecki Reviewed 06/2017



  • CNS depressant effect of isopropanol is 2 to 3 times as potent as that of ethanol.

  • Many products that contain isopropanol also contain methanol, ethylene glycol, and ethanol.

  • Rapidly a...


Signs and Symptoms

  • Usually occur within 30–60 min of ingestion

  • Neurologic:

    • Lethargy

    • Weakness

    • Headache

    • Inebriation

    • Vertigo

    • Ataxia

    • Apnea

    • Coma

    • Initial excitation phase seen with ethanol ingestion is absen...



Search for and transport all bottles and medications that may have been ingested by the patient when an overdose is suspected. 

Initial Stabilization/Therapy

  • ABCs:

    • Maintain airway a...



Admission Criteria

Moderate to severe isopropanol toxicity (altered mental status, hypotension) 

Discharge Criteria

  • Observe asymptomatic patients following ingestion for 2–4 hr befor...

Pearls and Pitfalls

  • Supportive care is the primary treatment.

  • Do not treat with ethanol infusion or 4-methylpyrazole.

Additional Reading

  • Emadi  A, Coberly  L. Intoxication of a hospitalized patient with an isopropanol-based hand sanitizer. N Engl J Med.  2007;356:530–531.

  • Kraut  JA, Kurtz  I. Toxic alcohol ingest...



  • 976.0 Poisoning by local anti-infectives and anti-inflammatory drugs

  • 980.2 Toxic effect of isopropyl alcohol

  • 982.8 Toxic effect of other nonpetroleum-based solvents


  • T51.2X1A Toxic effect o...

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