A study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine found that ingestion of high-concentration peroxide led to a high incidence of associated embolic events in the study population. 

High-concentration peroxide has been promoted in alternative medicine circles for cleanses or as a “natural cure”, however ingestion may actually lead to life-threatening conditions and death. Study authors, led by Benjamin W. Hatten, MD, MPH, aimed to characterize the outcomes of high-concentration peroxide ingestion cases reported to United States poison centers, as well as examine the role of treatment with hyperbaric oxygen, and review the use of routine endoscopy.  

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They conducted a retrospective analysis of the National Poison Data System by collecting charts of each center’s high-concentration (>10%) peroxide ingestion. Of the 1,054 cases initially identified, 294 met the inclusion criteria. Life-threatening ailments associated with high-concentration peroxide ingestion include seizure, altered mental status, respiratory distress, stroke, pulmonary embolism and heart attack. 

Over the 10-year period, 13.9% of cases (41/294) had evidence of embolic events; 6.8% of cases (20/294) either died or had continued disability. Improved outcomes were seen with early hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Grade 3 or 4 lesions were only observed in five cases as indicated by an endoscopy. 

Overall, symptomatic high-concentration peroxide exposures were linked to a high rate of associated embolic events and this cohort exhibited a high rate of death. Routine endoscopy is unlikely to be of benefit but early hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be beneficial. Dr. Hatten concluded, “This is a caustic liquid, and as with many poison prevention efforts, we recommend keeping this product in its original container and adding both child-resistant capping and a colorizing agent to reduce the possibility of accidental ingestion.”

For more information visit annemergmed.com.