Glazes are products that add a shiny or glossy coating to a surface. Glaze poisoning occurs when someone swallows these substances.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
The harmful substances in glaze are:
- Hydrocarbons (including basalt, borax frit, and zinc oxide)
Various glazes contain these substances, including paints and ceramic glazes.
Other types of glazes also contain these substances.
Below are symptoms of glaze poisoning in different parts of the body.
EYES, EARS, NOSE, AND THROAT
KIDNEYS AND BLADDER
- Decreased urine output
- Kidney damage
STOMACH AND INTESTINES
- Abdominal pain
- Increased thirst
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
HEART AND BLOOD
MUSCLES AND JOINTS
- Joint pain
- Muscle soreness
- Coma (decreased level of consciousness and lack of responsiveness)
- Inability to sleep
- Lack of desire to do anything
- Being uncooperative
- Uncoordinated movements
- Hearing loss
- Pale skin
- Yellow skin (jaundice)
Note: These symptoms generally occur only in repeated poisonings over a long period of time.
Get medical help right away. Do NOT make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to. If the glaze is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.
If the person swallowed the glaze, give them water or milk right away, if a provider tells you to do so. Do NOT give anything to drink if the person has symptoms that make it hard to swallow. These include vomiting, seizures, or a decreased level of alertness. If the person breathed in glaze fumes, move them to fresh air right away.
Before Calling Emergency
Have this information ready:
- Person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of the product (and ingredients, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline 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.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.
Tests that may be done include:
- Blood and urine tests
- Bronchoscopy -- camera down the throat to look for burns in the airways and lungs
- Chest x-ray
- ECG (electrocardiogram or heart tracing)
- Endoscopy -- camera down the throat to look for burns in the esophagus and the stomach
Treatment may include:
- Fluids through a vein (IV)
- Medicine to treat symptoms
- Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)
- Activated charcoal
- Washing of the skin (irrigation), perhaps every few hours for several days
- Surgery to remove burned skin
- Breathing support, including tube through the mouth into the lungs and connected to a breathing machine (ventilator)
How well someone does depends on how severe the poisoning is and how quickly treatment is received. The faster medical help is given, the better the chance for recovery. Damage can continue to occur for several weeks after swallowing glaze. Permanent brain damage may occur.
Swallowing such poisons can have severe effects on many parts of the body. Burns in the airway or gastrointestinal tract can lead to tissue necrosis, resulting in infection, shock and death, even several months after the substance was first swallowed. Scars may form in these tissues, leading to long-term difficulties with breathing, swallowing, and digestion.
Theobald JL, Mycyk MB. Iron and heavy metals. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 151.
Wang GS, Buchanan JA. Hydrocarbons. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 152.
Last reviewed on: 9/28/2019
Reviewed by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Emeritus, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.