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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

ALKALIES                                                          481

6. Sodium Carbonate (Soda, Washing Soda, Sajjikhara) , Na2CO3,
10H2O. — This occurs as large, transparent, monosymmetric crystals. When
exposed to the air the crystals soon effloresce, and become white on the
surface. They are soluble in water but insoluble in alcohol. Exsiccated
sodium carbonate (Sodii carbonas exsiccatus) is obtained by the action of
heat on sodium carbonate. It occurs as a dry, inodorous, white powder,
with a strongly alkaline taste, and dissolves readily in water. The impure
combined carbonates of sodium and potassium are sold in the bazaar as
-papad khara.

A mixture of caustic soda and sodium carbonate, known as lye, soap-lye
or soap-lees, is used for cleansing purposes,

Symptoms. — The usual symptoms of poisoning by corrosive mineral acids
are present with the following exceptions : —

1.    The taste is acrid and soapy.

2.    The vomited matter is strongly alkaline, and does not effervesce on
corning in contact with the earth.   It is at first thick and slimy, and later
contains dark altered blood, and shreds of the mucous membrane from the
gullet and stomach.

3.    Purging, which is rare in poisoning by corrosive acids, is a frequent
symptom, accompanied by severe pain and straining.   The motions consist
of stringy mucus mixed with blood.

It should be noted here that the sense of heat and burning pain in the
throat and stomach are much greater when a strong solution of ammonia is
swallowed than when a solution of caustic soda or potash is taken.

The ammoniacal vapour is very irritating to the respiratory organs. A
When inhaled, it produces congestion and watering of the eyes, running of
the nose, and a feeling of suffocation with a sense of great heat in the throat.
Death may occur immediately from suffocation due to inflammation of the
glottis, or later from pneumonia or broncho-pneumonia. A Bengali druggist
of Agra was seriously affected by the gas escaping from a suddenly opened
bottle containing a strong solution of ammonia, and suffered from conjuncti-
vitis, cornea! ulcers and iridocyclitis and had almost lost his vision-

Fatal Dose. — The average fatal dose of ammonia, caustic potash or caustic
soda is half an ounce. The smallest fatal dose of liquor ammonise fortis is
one fluid drachm, and that of caustic potash is forty grains. A dose of 8.5
grammes of caustic soda taken with a view to committing suicide killed a
Turkish woman, aged 20 years, in eleven days, and a dose of 60 grammes
killed another woman, 35 years old, in twenty-nine hours1 and thirty
minutes.60 Half an ounce of carbonate of potassium is regarded as a fatal
dose. The fatal dose of carbonate of sodium is not certain. It is much less
poisonous than potassium carbonate.

Fatal Period. — Usually within twenty-four hours. Inhalation of ammonia
vapour has caused, death in four minutes, which is the shortest recorded
period. Death may occur after weeks or months, or even after two or three
years from inanition and starvation due to the oesophageal or pyloric

Treatment — Do not use the stomach tube or emetics, but neutralize the
alkaline poison by giving vegetable acids, such as acetic (vinegar), citric
(lemon or orange juice) or tartaric acid mixed with a large quantity j®f
water. These should be followed by olive oil, white of egg, milk, bjitter and
acidulated demulcent drinks. Pieces of ice should be given to suc^,
Morphine may be given hypodermically to relieve pain, and ether, to counter-
act the effects of collapse.                                                                  - v4*

60.   Willimot and Gosden, Brit. Med* Jw&^ tae 9, 1934, p. 102%,

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