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Secobarbital overdose

Definition

Secobarbital is a drug used to treat insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep). It may also be given before surgery to relieve anxiety. Secobarbital overdose occurs when someone takes too much of this medicine.

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

Alternative Names

Meballymal overdose; Quinalbarbitone sodium overdose

Poisonous Ingredient

Secobarbital

Where Found

Brand names of this drug include:

  • Immenoctal
  • Seconal
  • Seral

This list may not be all-inclusive.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Breathing difficulty, including slow or no breathing
  • Decreased energy, sleepiness, even coma
  • Confusion, agitation
  • Headache
  • Weak pulse, low blood pressure
  • Rash, blisters
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness, unsteady walking

Before Calling Emergency

The following information is helpful for emergency assistance:

  • The person's age, weight, and condition
  • The name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known)
  • The time it was swallowed
  • The amount swallowed
  • If the medicine was prescribed for the person

However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.

Poison Control

Your local poison 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 hotline number 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.

Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

The health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Airway support, including oxygen, breathing tube through the mouth (intubation), and ventilator (breathing machine)
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • ECG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
  • Fluids through the vein (intravenous or IV)
  • Laxative
  • Medicine to treat symptoms

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well the person does depends on the severity of the overdose and how quickly treatment is received. If there has been prolonged coma and shock (damage to multiple internal organs), a more serious outcome is possible.

References

Aronson JK. Barbiturates. In: Aronson JK, ed. Meyler's Side Effects of Drugs. 16th ed. Waltham, MA: Elsevier; 2016:819-826.

Gussow L, Carlson, A. Sedative hypnotics. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 165.

Review Date:1/31/2017
Reviewed By:Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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Outcome Data

No data available for this condition/procedure.

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