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Methanol poisoning is an uncommon but an extremely hazardous intoxication. Since methanol is a versatile fuel and is having increasing usage in an energy-conscious society, a high index of suspicion and swift laboratory confirmation is essential in managing this poisoning. Methanol poisoning may occur in sporadic or epidemic circumstances. Chronic exposure may occur in the occupational setting. Man is uniquely susceptible to methanol toxicity, perhaps dependent upon folate metabolism. Classic symptoms of methanol toxicity can only occur in laboratory animals who are rendered folate deficient. Folate may be useful in humans enhancing removal of the toxic products of methanol poisoning. The enzyme responsible for metabolism of methanol is alcohol dehydrogenase. Ethanol has a higher affinity for this enzyme and is preferentially metabolized. Simultaneous ethanol and methanol administration may confuse the onset of the intoxication. Pyrazoles may also be used to inhibit alcohol dehydrogenase thus preventing the intoxication. The most important initial symptom of methanol poisoning is visual disturbance. The symptoms may be delayed up to 24 hours after ingestion due to simultaneous alcohol administration and metabolic processes. Laboratory evidence of severe metabolic acidosis with increased anion and osmolar gaps strongly suggest the clinical diagnosis. There may be an important association between mean corpuscular volume which is significantly higher in cases of severe methanol poisoning than in mild cases.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)


C E Becker. Methanol poisoning. The Journal of emergency medicine. 1983;1(1):51-8

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PMID: 6386968

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