site logo

Alcohol Ether And Chloroform

Alcohol, ether, and chloroform, induce general anæsthesia, often

preceded by delirious excitement, and followed by nausea and vomiting.

When they cause death, it is by inducing a state like apoplexy or by

paralyzing the heart.

=Alcohol.=--Absolute alcohol is ethyl hydroxide (C{2}H{5}OH) with not

more than 1 per cent. by weight of water. Rectified spirit (spiritus

rectificatus) contains 90 per cent. of al
ohol. Methylated spirit

consists of rectified spirit with 10 per cent. of wood spirit. Proof

spirit contains a little over 49 per cent. of absolute alcohol; brandy

or whisky, 53 per cent.; port wine, 20 to 25 per cent.; ales and stout,

4 to 6 per cent.

Symptoms.--Acute poisoning; confusion, giddiness, staggering gait,

headache, passing into stupor, with subnormal temperature, and coma.

Vomiting may occur and recovery ensue, otherwise collapse sets in.

Pupils usually dilated.

Dipsomaniacs suffer from indigestion, vomiting and purging, jaundice,

albuminuria, diabetes, cirrhosis of liver, degeneration of kidneys,

congestion of brain, peripheral neuritis, alcoholic insanity, and

various forms of paralysis. In the acute form delirium tremens is the

most common manifestation.

Post-Mortem Appearances.--Deep red colour of lining membranes of

stomach. Sometimes congestion of cerebral vessels and meninges. Lungs

congested, blood fluid. Rigor mortis persistent.

Fatal Dose.--Death from 1/2 pint of gin and from two bottles of port,

but recovery from larger quantities.

Fatal Period.--Average about twenty-four hours.

Treatment.--Stomach-tube, cold affusion, electricity, injection of a

pint of hot coffee into the rectum. Give chloride of ammonium in 30

grain doses to prevent delirium; strychnine or digitalin


Method of Extraction from the Stomach.--Neutralize the contents of the

stomach, if acid, with sodium carbonate; place them in a retort and

carefully distil. Collect the distillate, mix with chloride of calcium

or anhydrous sulphate of copper, and again distil. Agitate distillate

with dry potassium carbonate, and draw off some of the supernatant fluid

for testing.

Tests.--Odour. Dissolves camphor. With dilute sulphuric acid and

bichromate of potassium turns green, and evolves aldehyde. Product of

combustion makes lime-water white and turbid.

=Methyl Alcohol: Wood Naphtha.=--Used to produce intoxication by

painters, furniture-polishers, etc.

Symptoms are those of alcoholic poisoning, but vomiting and delirium

are more persistent. Total or partial blindness may follow as a sequel

of optic atrophy. A fatal result not infrequently follows.

The following table gives the points of distinction between concussion

of brain, alcoholic poisoning, and opium poisoning:


1. Marks of violence 1. No marks of violence, 1. As alcohol.

on head. unless person has

fallen. History will

be of use.

2. Stupor, sudden. 2. Excitement precedes 2. Symptoms slow.

sudden stupor. Drowsiness, stupor,


3. Face pale, cold; 3. Face flushed; pupils 3. Face pale; pupils

pupils sluggish, generally dilated. contracted.

sometimes dilated.

4. Remission rare. 4. Partial recovery may 4. Remission rare.

Patient recovers occur, followed by

slowly. death.

5. No odour of alcohol 5. Odour of alcohol 5. Odour of opium in

in breath. in breath. breath.

=Ether= is a volatile liquid prepared from ethylic alcohol by

interaction with sulphuric acid. It contains 92 per cent. of ethyl oxide

(C{2}H{5})O. It was formerly called 'sulphuric ether.' It is a

colourless, inflammable liquid, having a strong and characteristic

odour, specific gravity 0.735. =Purified ether= from which the ethylic

alcohol has been removed by washing with distilled water, and most of

the water by subsequent distillation in the presence of calcium chloride

and lime. It is this preparation which is used for the production of

general anæsthesia. It has a specific gravity of 0.722 to 0.720, and its

vapour is very inflammable.

Symptoms.--When taken as a liquid, same as alcohol. When inhaled as

vapour, causes slow, prolonged, and stertorous breathing; face becomes

pale, lips bluish, surface of body cold. Pulse first quickens, then

slows. Pupils dilated, eyes glassy and fixed, muscles become flabby and

relaxed, profound anæsthesia. Then pulse sinks and coma ensues,

sensation being entirely suspended. Nausea and vomiting not uncommon.

Post-Mortem Appearances.--Brain and lungs congested. Cavities of heart

full of dark, liquid blood. Vessels at upper part of spinal cord


Treatment.--Exposure to pure air, cold affusion, artificial

respiration, galvanism.

Method of Extraction from the Contents of the Stomach.--Same as for

alcohol. During distillation pass some of the vapour into concentrated

solution of bichromate of potash, nitric and sulphuric acids, and note

reaction as for alcohol.

Tests.--Vapour burns with smoky flame, depositing carbon. Sparingly

soluble in water. With bichromate of potash and sulphuric acid same as


=Chloroform.=--A colourless liquid, specific gravity 1.490 to 1.495,

very volatile, giving off dense vapour. Sweet taste and pleasant odour.

Symptoms.--When swallowed, characteristic smell in breath, anxious

countenance, burning pain in the throat, stomach, and region of the

abdomen, staggering gait, coldness of the extremities, vomiting,

insensibility, deepening into coma, with stertorous breathing, dilated

pupils, and imperceptible pulse. When inhaled, much the same as ether,

but produces insensibility and muscular relaxation more rapidly. It

would be impossible to instantly render a person insensible by holding a

pocket-handkerchief saturated with chloroform over the face. Statements

such as this, which are often made in cases of robbery from the person

and in cases of rape, are incredible.

Delayed Chloroform-Poisoning.--Death may take place in from four to

seven days after chloroform has been administered, especially in the

case of children. The internal organs are found to be fattily

degenerated, and death is thought to be due to acetonuria.

Post-Mortem Appearances.--Cerebral and pulmonary congestion. Heart

empty, or right side distended with dark blood.

Treatment.--Stomach-tube and free lavage; cold affusion; drawing

forward tongue; artificial respiration; galvanism and suspension with

head downward. Inhalation of nitrite of amyl; strychnine hypodermically.

Fatal Dose.--When swallowed, from 1 to 2 ounces.

Method of Extraction from the Stomach.--By distillation at 120° F. The

vapour, as it passes along a glass tube, may be decomposed by heat into

chlorine, hydrochloric acid, and carbon--the first shown by setting free

iodine in iodide of starch, the second by reddening blue litmus-paper,

and the last by its deposit.

Tests.--Taste, colour, weight; burns with a green flame; dissolves

camphor, guttapercha, and caoutchouc.

=Iodoform.=--Poisoning may result from its use in surgery. It produces

delirium, sleepiness, and coma. It may lead to mental weakness or optic