Nitric acid is a poisonous clear-to-yellow colored liquid. This article discusses poisoning from swallowing or breathing in nitric acid.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Substances used to clean metals (such as gun barrels)
Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.
If the chemical was swallowed, immediately give the person water or milk, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. Give 4 to 6 ounces of milk of magnesia, if possible.
DO NOT give water or milk if the patient is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.
If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move him or her to fresh air.
Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following:
The patient's age, weight, and condition
The name of the product (and ingredients and strengths, if known)
The time it was swallowed or inhaled
The amount swallowed or inhaled
However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.
Poison Control, or a local emergency number
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The patient may receive:
Medicines to treat symptoms
Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
Camera down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach (endoscopy)
How well a patient does depends on the amount of poison swallowed, how concentrated the poison is and how quickly treatment was received. The faster a patient gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.
Eric Perez, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.