Hydrogen Peroxide Side Effects
With hydrogen peroxide, significant problems are more likely when higher strengths are used or when the substance is swallowed or taken inappropriately. Swallowing dilute hydrogen peroxide can cause side effects such as vomiting, mouth burns, and stomach bleeding. Enemas of dilute hydrogen peroxide have been reported to cause serious gastrointestinal problems. Swallowing concentrated hydrogen peroxide can lead to stroke, brain swelling, and even death.
Hydrogen peroxide can cause side effects. The type and severity of such problems depends largely on the strength of the product and the way it was taken. Low strengths used on the skin or in mouthwashes are unlikely to cause serious side effects. Higher strengths or any strength taken by mouth, IV, or other routes may be more likely to cause significant problems.
Swallowing dilute (3%) hydrogen peroxide has been reported to cause the following problems:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Burns in the mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach
- Bleeding in the stomach
- Inflammation of the intestines
- Stomach ulcer
- Rupture of the colon.
However, swallowing very small amounts of hydrogen peroxide is not likely to cause dangerous side effects, although rare cases of serious problems have been reported.
Eye exposure to dilute hydrogen peroxide may cause extreme irritation and pain, but is unlikely to cause permanent damage.
Enemas of dilute hydrogen peroxide have been reported to cause serious gastrointestinal side effects. Some cases were severe enough to cause death.
There have been rare cases of air emboli after hydrogen peroxide was used for surgical irrigation (to wash the wound during surgery), due to the formation of tiny air bubbles that entered the bloodstream. Although rare, this problem is potentially fatal. It is also possible that ingesting dilute hydrogen peroxide or using it for enemas could also cause this life-threatening side effect.
Giving hydrogen peroxide by IV can cause inflammation of the blood vessels at the injection site, air emboli, and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.