Activated charcoal has numerous uses to its credit, but it has its own share of side effects too. With this article, explore some of the adverse effects of activated charcoal.

Activated Charcoal Side Effects

Do you think activated charcoal is always beneficial? Then think once again. When carbon is treated with oxygen, activated charcoal comes out as a product. It is made from several carbonaceous materials such as coal, nutshell and wood. There are broadly two methods by which activated charcoal is produced, physical reactivation and chemical activation. Activated charcoal is processed in such a manner that it becomes extremely porous, soft and dark colored powder. These properties allow it to have larger area for absorption, which makes it able to bind unwanted and toxin substances in its gut. Activated charcoal absorbs chemicals such as chlorine from drinking water thus, filtering and cleaning tap water and converting it into a healthier drinking water. Apart from this, there are numerous other uses of activated charcoal. However, overdose of activated charcoal can cause poisoning or other severe problem. It can also cause constipation or intestinal obstruction. In the following lines, we have provided the side effects of activated charcoal.
Adverse Effects Of Activated Charcoal
  • When you use activated charcoal suspension, make sure to discuss its side effects with the doctor, as it may causes gastrointestinal side effects, which includes nausea, vomiting and constipation. Also, bowel obstruction, black colored stools, and perforation of the gastrointestinal tract and subsequent charcoal peritoneum is reported.
  • Activated charcoal may also cause severe allergic reactions, such as breathing problem, tightness in the chest, swelling of the face, lips, mouth or tongue, etc.
  • During laparotomy, charcoal is revealed throughout the peritoneum because of which a young female may develop a surgically acute abdomen. It has many side effects like abscess formation, persistent peritoneal charcoal deposits, small dowel resections, peritonitis, etc.
  • Multiple doses of activated charcoal may result in ileus. It may also generate a chalk-like taste in the mouth and tongue surface which can be unpalatable.
  • Activated charcoal also may have metabolic side effects when combined with sorbitol like dehydration, shock, hypernatremia (disruption of the electrolytes caused by increased levels of sodium within the blood), hypermagnesemia and electrolyte abnormalities. Multiple dose of charcoal may also result in these side effects.
  • Respiratory side effects are also caused by it, which includes empyema, bronchiolitis, adult respiratory distress syndrome, etc. Adult respiratory distress syndrome occurs because of a wrong administration of activated charcoal directly into the lungs of an adult. Empyema is basically a gathering of pus within the cavity between lungs and membranes in its surroundings. Bronchitis is a blocking of airways with granulation tissue.
  • Corneal abrasions are also one of the side effects of activated charcoal. If it comes in contact with the eyes, it may cause corneal abrasions, which mean scratches over the clear portion of the eye.
  • Activated charcoal’s excessive intake also has hematologic side effects, which include exacerbation of variegate porpyria. This condition sometimes culminates into increased lesions on skin, plasma and urine porphyrins.
  • Activated charcoal must be avoided by pregnant women, nursing women and aged.
  • Activated charcoal should never be used concomitantly with any medication or nutritional supplements.
So, the next time you plan to consume activated charcoal, make sure you consider its side effects, lest it causes any adverse condition.

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