Activated Charcoal oral suspension

What is this medication?

CHARCOAL SUSPENSION (CHAHR kohl suh SPEN shuhn) binds to substances in the stomach. It is used to treat some poisonings or overdoses. If a poisoning or overdose occurs, get emergency help. Do not treat a poisoning or overdose yourself.

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Actidose With Sorbitol, Actidose-Aqua, EZ Char, Kerr INSTA-CHAR


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What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

•food or medicine poisoning

•an unusual or allergic reaction to charcoal, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives

•pregnant or trying to get pregnant


How should I use this medication?

Take this medicine by mouth. It is usually given by a health care professional in a hospital or clinic setting.

If you are taking this medicine at home, follow the directions of your health care provider. Do not take this medicine unless told to do so. Shake well before using. This medicine works best if used within 30 to 60 minutes of overdose or poisoning. If the dose is vomited, ask your doctor what you should do.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.


What if I miss a dose?

This does not apply; this medicine is not for regular use.

What may interact with this medication?

Do not take this medicine with any of the following medications:


This medicine may also interact with the following medications:



•birth control pills





•phenothiazines like chlorpromazine, mesoridazine, prochlorperazine, thioridazine




•ursodeoxycholic acid

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.


What should I watch for while using this medication?

Accidental poisoning or overdose is a medical emergency. Use this medicine only as directed by a health care provider. Once you have used this first emergency treatment measure, see a doctor as soon as possible.

This medicine does not bind all toxic substances. Do not use this medicine to treat overdoses of petroleum products (like gasoline, kerosene, and some cleaning products), cyanide, alcohols, engine coolants, mineral acids, alkalai's or bases (like in many cleaning products), or iron. Get emergency help to treat any overdose or poisoning.

This medicine may bind to other medicines or dairy products in the stomach. Do not take any other medicines for at least 2 hours before or after taking this medicine. Do not eat or drink milk, cheese, or other diary for at least 2 hours before or after taking this medicine.

Take with plenty of water and keep a balanced diet after the emergency. This will help to prevent dehydration and nutritional problems.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:

•allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue

•breathing problems


•dry eyes or absence of tears

•extreme thirst

•trouble passing urine or change in the amount of urine

•unusually dry or loose skin

•unusually weak or tired

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

•dark stools

•diarrhea or vomiting

•swelling or pain in the stomach

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medication?

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store at room temperature between 15 and 30 degrees C (59 and 86 degrees F). Protect from heat and moisture. Do not freeze. Discard any unused suspension after you have opened the package. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.

NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

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Note: Introduction and Additional Common Questions written and medically approved by Cleveland Clinic professionals.

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