What Are the Effects of Drinking Bleach?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Drinking bleach can cause effects that range from mild to serious, depending on the amount ingested. Medline Plus states that consuming diluted bleach, or sodium hypochlorite, may lead to mild stomach irritation. Ingesting large amounts can lead to a gagging sensation, pain in the mouth and throat, burns in the esophagus, chest pain, low blood pressure, slow heartbeat, delirium, coma, shock, vomiting, and stomach or abdominal pain.

If a person consumes bleach, Medline Plus advises contacting a poison control hotline immediately. The attendant needs to know the amount that was swallowed, the time it was swallowed, and the person’s age, weight and condition. Generally, a person who has swallowed bleach is advised to drink milk or water unless symptoms make the patient unable to swallow. The patient should not be forced to vomit unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.

Drinking bleach may lead to admission to the hospital for monitoring and treatment of symptoms. A tube may be inserted through the nose and into the stomach to empty its contents, and intravenous fluids may be given, Medline Plus states. With prompt treatment, the effects of drinking bleach can be minimized, leading to a full recovery.