Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Is mixing Mountain Dew and racing fuel a new trend?

 

Is Dewshine (mixing Mountain Dew and racing fuel) what all the cool kids are doing?

Will it make me cool?
 
DewAndFuel_1453815893474_30645234_ver1.0_640_480
Image credit.
 

According to one article, one recent case of four teens getting together to drink this bad idea of a cocktail may be just the tip of some sort of epidemic iceberg –
 

And that’s just one state, and the just the cases that have been reported.[1]

 

While that is correct, it is also much more than an exaggeration of the facts.
 

She (Tennessee Poison Center Medical Director Donna Seger) says this is the first time she has seen this type of poisoning. The four cases are the only ones reported in Tennessee, and Seger is not aware of any cases in other states.[2]

 

Nationally, there was only one methanol poisoning fatality reported among teens aged 13-19 by the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System in 2014, the most recent year data is available.[3]

 

Rudy Eugene was shot while eating the face of another person. This was supposed to be the beginning of a wave of attacks by abusers of bath salts, but . . .
 

Lab tests detected only marijuana in the system of a Florida man shot while chewing another man’s face, the medical examiner said Wednesday, ruling out other street drugs including the components typically found in the stimulants known as bath salts.[4]

 

We are still waiting for the bath salts zombie apocalypse.

What did I write about it at the time?[5]
 

This appears to be the first time that mixing Mountain Dew and racing fuel has been reported, so is it the tip of an iceberg or just an example of click bait?

Why mix racing fuel with anything and drink it? Racing fuel contains methanol, a type of alcohol that is much more poisonous to humans than ethanol (the type of alcohol that is sold for to be drunk by humans).

Why drink methanol, rather than ethanol? The dead were both 16 years old. Suppose that you are 16 and you want alcohol. Ethanol is not legally available. You probably do not know much about chemistry or toxicology. You may know that methanol is a form of alcohol. You skip right by due diligence. You draw the wrong conclusion. Four of you are hospitalized, but only two survive.

Teens tend to choose to experiment with marijuana, rather than methanol. Both are much easier to obtain than ethanol, but the dangers of marijuana are more likely to be legal, while the dangers of methanol are more likely to be medical.[6]

Mixing products containing methanol with Mountain Dew may be new, but the use of methanol for intoxication is not new, accidental ingestion of methanol by smaller children is also not new, and inhalation of products containing methanol (such as huffing carburetor cleaner) appears to be more even more common than ingestion of methanol.

The hospital treatment for methanol toxicity is hemodialysis and fomepizole (Antizol) and/or 10% ethanol. The EMS treatment is supportive care.[7]

Patients with initial blood sugar measurements above 140 mg/dL appear to be much more likely to die, which means that we should be especially vigilant with these patients, not that those with blood sugar measurements below 140 mg/dL will not die.[8]

Breath alcohol analyzers may mistake methanol for ethanol, so do not conclude that a positive breath test means drunk, rather than methanol poisoning.[9],[10],[11]

Don’t drink, or inhale, methanol. Methanol is neither fashionable nor healthy.

I hope you don’t come here for fashion advice, but I have provided valid evidence for my health advice.

Footnotes:

[1] Kids Are Dying From Drinking Racing Fuel Because For Fuck’s Sake, Don’t Drink Racing Fuel
Jason Torchinsky
Yesterday (01/27/2016?) 10:00pm
Article

[2] 2 teens die after drinking racing fuel, soda – The teens evidently thought they could drink methanol, which is extremely toxic, as a substitute for ethanol
EMS1.com
Yesterday (01/27/2016?) at 12:56 PM
AP
Article

[3] No ‘dewshine’ trend, Tennessee officials say
Anita Wadhwani
11:42 p.m. CST January 27, 2016
The Tennessean
Article

[4] Tests find only marijuana in face-chewer’s system
Boston Globe
Suzette Laboy
June 28, 2012
AP
Article

[5] Police fatally shot a naked man chewing on the face of another naked man
Tue, 29 May 2012
Rogue Medic
Article

 

Will I be surprised if the lab results show drugs in his system? No.

Will I be surprised if the lab results do not show drugs in his system? No.

There are other causes of excited delirium. Drugs are most common, so a wise bet would be to bet on there being drugs in his system, but enough patients experience excited delirium without drugs that we would be behaving inappropriately if we did not consider other causes of altered mental status, such as hypoglycemia, head injury, either a clot or a bleed in the brain, or any of the other possible causes of excited delirium.

We do not know what caused this.

 

[6] Cannabis-related hospitalizations: unexpected serious events identified through hospital databases.
Jouanjus E, Leymarie F, Tubery M, Lapeyre-Mestre M.
Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2011 May;71(5):758-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2010.03897.x.
PMID: 21204913

Free Full Text from PubMed Central
 

We estimated that in 2007 the incidence of cannabis-related AEs in the Midi-Pyrenees region ranged from 1.2 per 1000 regular cannabis users (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.7, 1.6) to 3.2 (95% CI 2.5, 3.9).

 

[7] American Academy of Clinical Toxicology practice guidelines on the treatment of methanol poisoning.
Barceloux DG, Bond GR, Krenzelok EP, Cooper H, Vale JA; American Academy of Clinical Toxicology Ad Hoc Committee on the Treatment Guidelines for Methanol Poisoning.
J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2002;40(4):415-46. Review.
PMID: 12216995
 

CONCLUSION:
The management of methanol poisoning includes standard supportive care, the correction of metabolic acidosis, the administration of folinic acid, the provision of an antidote to inhibit the metabolism of methanol to formate, and selective hemodialysis to correct severe metabolic abnormalities and to enhance methanol and formate elimination. Although both ethanol and fomepizole are effective, fomepizole is the preferred antidote for methanol poisoning.

 

[8] Hyperglycemia is a strong prognostic factor of lethality in methanol poisoning.
Sanaei-Zadeh H, Esfeh SK, Zamani N, Jamshidi F, Shadnia S.
J Med Toxicol. 2011 Sep;7(3):189-94. doi: 10.1007/s13181-011-0142-x.
PMID: 21336799

Free Full Text from PubMed Central
 

Considering the cutoff level of 140 mg/dL for blood glucose and using logistic regression analysis, and adjusting according to the admission data with significant statistical difference in the two study groups, the odds ratio for hyperglycemia as a risk factor for death was 6.5 (95% confidence interval = 1.59-26.4). Our study showed that blood glucose levels were high in methanol poisoning and even higher in those who died in comparison with the survivors. Therefore, hyperglycemia might be a new prognostic factor in methanol poisoning, but further studies are needed to determine whether controlling hyperglycemia has therapeutic consequences.

 

Don’t make the mistake of treating the blood sugar in the belief that you are improving outcomes. There is no evidence to support that hypothesis. In the absence of evidence of benefit or safety, we should expect that treating the blood sugar would be more harmful than beneficial.

[9] Breath alcohol analyzer mistakes methanol poisoning for alcohol intoxication.
Caravati EM, Anderson KT.
Ann Emerg Med. 2010 Feb;55(2):198-200. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2009.07.021. Epub 2009 Oct 14.
PMID: 19833410
 

A 47-year-old-man was found in a public park, acting intoxicated. A breath analyzer test (Intoxilyzer 5000EN) measured 0.288 g/210 L breath ethanol, without an interferent noted. In the emergency department, the patient admitted to drinking HEET Gas-Line antifreeze, which contains 99% methanol. Two to three hours after ingestion, serum and urine toxicology screen results were negative for ethanol and multiple other substances. His serum methanol concentration was 589 mg/dL,

 

[10] Methanol ingestion: prevention of toxic sequelae after massive ingestion.
Lushine KA, Harris CR, Holger JS.
J Emerg Med. 2003 May;24(4):433-6.
PMID: 12745047

[11] Observations on the specificity of breath-alcohol analyzers used for clinical and medicolegal purposes.
Jones AW.
J Forensic Sci. 1989 Jul;34(4):842-7.
PMID: 2760587
 

Three different methods of alcohol analysis are reported: semiconductor sensing (Alcotest 7310), electrochemical fuel cell (Alcolmeter SM-1), and infrared (IR) absorptiometry (IR Intoximeter 3000). Methanol could not be distinguished from ethanol with any of these breath-test instruments. When nonspecific techniques of ethanol analysis are used, the results must be considered with caution when interfering substances expelled in breath cannot be excluded.

 

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