Management of salicylate intoxication

Drugs. 1982 Oct;24(4):335-40. doi: 10.2165/00003495-198224040-00005.


Salicylate intoxication is common. It results in impaired generation of adenosine triphosphate and produces a primary respiratory alkalosis. In adults the clinical manifestations may closely simulate a cerebrovascular event or alcoholic ketoacidosis. Central nervous system dysfunction, fever, glycosuria, ketonuria, respiratory alkalosis with an elevated anion gap, tinnitus, dehydration, hypokalaemia and haemostatic defects are common. The diagnosis may be made rapidly by the ferric chloride test or Phenistix test. Standard therapy includes gastric emptying, activated charcoal and alkalinisation of the urine. Osmotic diuresis is a controversial measure. Haemodialysis is indicated for patients with serum salicylate levels more than 100 mg/100ml, severe acid-base disturbance, or deterioration despite optimum therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium / drug effects
  • Diuresis
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Salicylates / metabolism
  • Salicylates / poisoning*
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Time Factors


  • Salicylates
  • Salicylic Acid