Which physical findings are characteristic of methanol toxicity?

Updated: Nov 05, 2018
  • Author: Kalyani Korabathina, MD; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Physical examination helps to rule out other causes of altered mental status and visual dysfunction, the 2 most common presenting signs of methanol intoxication. In cases of altered mental status and intentional overdose, the diagnosis of methanol intoxication may be difficult without a high clinical index of suspicion.

General physical examination

During the initial phase of methanol poisoning, individuals may experience effects similar to inebriation with alcohol and thus may not seek medical attention. As symptoms develop, most signs are related to metabolic acidosis; these are manifested as tachycardia, tachypnea, hypertension, and altered mental status. Pulmonary edema and acute respiratory distress may ensue, requiring intubation.

With large ingestions of methanol, depressed cardiac contractility heralds circulatory collapse and leads to signs of heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias, or both.

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