A team of researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine has published a study in the journal Annals of Emergency Medicine linking the ingestion of hydrogen peroxide with emergency hospitalizations. The study finds that children often inadvertently consume the mild antiseptic because they mistaken it for water. The study looks into what treatments are available for patients of hydrogen peroxide ingestion and what more could be developed in time to come.
The researchers examined 294 instances of mistaken hydrogen peroxide over a 10-year period and found 20 cases that were fatal and life-threatening. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 7,257 cases of hydrogen peroxide ingestion in 2015 and 92% of them were mistaken ingestions. The researchers recommend that parents should do more to protect their wards against direct access to harmful substances in the home.
What is hydrogen peroxide?
According to a report published in CNN, hydrogen peroxide is a mild antiseptic solution that is colorless and often mistaken for water in homes. It can be used to disinfect burns, scrapes, minor cuts and often used as a mouthwash to treat mouth infections and ease oral irritations. It works by producing a foam due to reaction of oxygen.
Hydrogen peroxide found in homes often range in concentrations of 3% to 5%, but those above 10% are often of higher concentrations and available for commercial use in the food industry. It is sometimes utilized for treatments in alternative medicine, but not something to be used lightly by inexperienced persons. People do not know much about this substance apart from the listed ways of applying it, hence the many cases of accidental ingestion and its associated dangers.
Hydrogen peroxide could lead to hospitalization, disability and death
Dr. Benjamin Hatten of the University of Colorado School of Medicine said doctors do not often know how to respond to patients who ingest hydrogen peroxide - and this is largely because ingestion is rare. He however said treating patients could be very difficult and uncertain since the medical community knows little about the effects of ingesting hydrogen peroxide, SFGate writes. Dr. Hatten is the lead author of the study and embarked on the research to provide more knowledge about treating and responding to patients that ingest hydrogen peroxide.
"This is not a safe substance," he wrote. "There are no scientific benefits to ingesting it, and there are very bad outcomes associated with it." He said that patients who mistakenly consume the substance often experience seizures, difficulty in breathing, mental confusion, stroke and heart attacks among others. It has also led to untimely deaths in some patients. Parents are warned to not change hydrogen peroxide from its original container so that children do not mistake it for water, and to add color to warn kids that it is dangerous and not to be consumed.