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Activated Charcoal Side Effects

Generic Name: charcoal

Note: This document contains side effect information about charcoal. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Activated Charcoal.

Some side effects of Activated Charcoal may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.

For the Consumer

Applies to charcoal: capsules, tablets

Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Constipation; diarrhea; temporary darkening of the stool; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur while taking charcoal (the active ingredient contained in Activated Charcoal)

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue).

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to charcoal: compounding powder, oral capsule, oral delayed release tablet, oral granule for reconstitution, oral powder for reconstitution, oral suspension, oral tablet

Gastrointestinal

Gastrointestinal side effects have frequently included nausea and vomiting (13% to 30%) and constipation. Bowel obstruction, ileus, chalk like taste, perforation of the gastrointestinal tract and subsequent charcoal (the active ingredient contained in Activated Charcoal) peritoneum, and black colored stools have also been reported.

A young woman developed a surgically acute abdomen following orogastric lavage and charcoal administration. Laparotomy revealed charcoal throughout the peritoneum. Complications included peritonitis, adhesions, abscess formation, persistent peritoneal charcoal deposits, oophorectomy, and small bowel resection.

A case report has described charcoal bezoar and small bowel obstruction following administration of 30 to 60 g of activated charcoal via nasogastric tube every 4 to 6 hours for 5 days.

In a study of 275 patients, 18 years old or younger, 20.4% (56/275) experienced vomiting within < 1 to 120 minutes (mean of 10 minutes) following enteral administration of 1 g/kg (no more than 50 g) of activated charcoal for acute poison ingestion. The following risk factors for vomiting were identified: nausea, a vomiting occurrence prior to charcoal ingestion, presence of signs or symptoms of poisoning (exclusive of nausea &/or vomiting), age greater than 12 years, administration by nasogastric or orogastric tube, and ingestion of emetogenic drug or chemical.

Bowel obstruction and ileus have occurred with multiple-dose administration.

Although charcoal is tasteless, it adheres to the surfaces of the mouth and tongue, producing a chalk like taste that can be unpalatable.

Metabolic

Metabolic side effects have included hypernatremia, hypermagnesemia. electrolyte abnormalities, dehydration, and shock.

Metabolic side effects occur primarily when sorbitol is combined with charcoal. Multiple-dose activated charcoal has been associated with hypernatremia and hypermagnesemia.

Respiratory

Respiratory side effects have included bronchiolitis obliterans, empyema, and Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

Bronchiolitis obliterans and empyema have occurred due to charcoal aspiration following emesis.

Accidental administration of charcoal directly into the lungs has resulted in Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

Ocular

Ocular side effects have included corneal abrasions.

Corneal abrasions may occur if charcoal comes in contact with eyes.

Hematologic

Exacerbation of variegate porphyria may lead to increases in skin lesions, and urine and plasma porphyrins.

Hematologic side effects have included exacerbation of variegate porphyria.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. Drugs.com does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.

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