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Isopropanol Poisoning

Isopropanol Poisoning is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • 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 absorbed following oral ingestion
  • Ketogenic, but does not cause significant acidosis
  • Metabolized by alcohol dehydrogenase to acetone (a CNS depressant):
    • Concomitant ethanol ingestion doubles half-life of isopropanol but not that of acetone.
    • Acetone eliminated by lung and kidney
  • Half-life:
    • Isopropanol: 3–16 hr
    • Acetone: 7.5–26 hr


  • Isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol): Clear, colorless, volatile liquid with faint odor of acetone and bitter taste
  • Available as 70% rubbing alcohol solution:
    • May contain blue dye that was added to inhibit its abuse (“blue heaven”)
  • Found in:
    • Various toiletries
    • Disinfectants
    • Window-cleaning solutions
    • Paint remover
    • Solvents
    • Jewelry cleaners
    • Detergents
    • Antifreeze
    • Hand sanitizers
  • Typical adult patient: Chronic alcoholic who has been on drinking binge and recently depleted his or her ethanol supply
  • Dermal and rectal administration can cause systemic toxicity.

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Isopropanol Poisoning." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307543/5.0/Isopropanol_Poisoning.
Isopropanol Poisoning. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307543/5.0/Isopropanol_Poisoning. Accessed August 18, 2019.
Isopropanol Poisoning. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307543/5.0/Isopropanol_Poisoning
Isopropanol Poisoning [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 August 18]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307543/5.0/Isopropanol_Poisoning.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Isopropanol Poisoning ID - 307543 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307543/5.0/Isopropanol_Poisoning PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -