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Clinitest tablets poisoning

Clinitest tablets are used to test how much sugar (glucose) there is in a person's urine. Poisoning occurs from swallowing these tablets.

Clinitest tablets are used to check how well a person's diabetes was being controlled. These tablets are rarely used today. They are not meant to be swallowed, but could be taken by accident, since they look like pills.

This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

The poisonous ingredients in Clinitest tablets are:

  • Copper sulfate
  • Citric acid
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Sodium carbonate

Where Found

The poisonous ingredients are found in Clinitest tablets.

Other products may also contain these ingredients.


Symptoms of poisoning from Clinitest tablets are:

  • Blood in urine
  • Burns and burning pain in the mouth, throat, and esophagus (swallowing tube)
  • Collapse
  • Convulsions (seizures)
  • Diarrhea, may be watery or bloody
  • Lightheadedness
  • Low blood pressure
  • No urine output
  • Pain during a bowel movement
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Throat swelling (causes breathing trouble)
  • Vomiting (may be bloody)
  • Weakness

Home Care

This type of poisoning requires medical help right away.

Do not make the person throw up. (They may do so on their own.)

If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.

If the chemical was swallowed, give the person water or orange juice right away. Do not give anything to drink if the person is vomiting or has a decreased level of alertness.

Before Calling Emergency

Have this information ready:

  • The person's age, weight, and condition
  • The name of the product
  • When it was swallowed
  • The amount swallowed

Poison Control

Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

Your health care provider will measure and monitor your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure.

Tests that may be done include:

  • Blood and urine tests
  • Bronchoscopy -- camera placed down the throat to see burns in the airways and lungs
  • Chest x-ray to see if there is air leakage into the tissue around the heart and lungs
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Endoscopy -- camera placed down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and stomach 

Treatment may include:

  • Additional flushing of the eyes
  • Medicine to treat symptoms and correct the body's electrolyte (body chemical) and acid-base balance
  • Fluids through a vein (IV).
  • Breathing support, including oxygen, tube through the mouth into the lungs, and breathing machine (ventilator)

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well someone does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster medical help is given, the better the chance for recovery.

Extensive damage to the mouth, throat, eyes, lungs, esophagus, nose, and stomach are possible. The ultimate outcome depends on the extent of this damage. Damage continues to occur to the esophagus and stomach for several weeks after the poison was swallowed. Death is possible.

Keep all medicines in child-proof containers and out of the reach of children.

Alternative Names

Urine sugar reagent poisoning; Anhydrous Benedict's reagent poisoning


French D, Sundaresan S. Caustic esophageal injury. In: In: Yeo CJ, ed. Shackelford's Surgery of the Alimentary Tract. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 47.

Hoyte C. Caustics. In: Walls RM, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 143.

Review Date 7/1/2023

Updated by: Jesse Borke, MD, CPE, FAAEM, FACEP, Attending Physician at Kaiser Permanente, Orange County, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.