What Happens If You Eat an Oxygen Absorber?

No problems are likely if an adult eats an oxygen absorber, but acute iron toxicity can occur when a child or a pet eats an oxygen absorber packet. The active ingredient—reduced iron—doesn’t absorb well in the gastrointestinal system, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Iron poisoning is a common toxicological pediatric emergency, and the severity is dose dependent, according to Medscape. Kids may or may not experience symptoms, so it’s important to observe them and not introduce new food for a period of time. If symptoms such as vomiting diarrhea or abdominal pain occur, it’s important to seek emergency care. Symptoms typically present within six hours of iron overdose.

If symptoms of poisoning occur and then disappear, this could mean that the person has gone into the second stage of poisoning, which precedes shock, states the Merck Manual. The third stage of iron poisoning involves shock, fever, bleeding, jaundice, liver failure and seizures. The fourth stage is liver failure, death and bleeding. The last stage is resolution marked by scarring of the stomach, intestines and liver.

Acute iron toxicity is managed with bowel decontamination, whole bowel irrigation and chelation with deferoxamine, which helps get rid of iron from the body, according to Medscape.