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Activated Charcoal

Medical and Pharmacy Editor:

Brand Name: Actidose-Aqua, charcoal (activated), CharcoalAid, Insta-Char, Liqui-Char, and Superchar

Generic Name: activated charcoal

Drug Class: Antidotes, other

What Is Activated Charcoal and How Does It Work?

Activated charcoal, also known as activated carbon, is used to absorb a variety of drugs and chemicals in the body by binding the drug or chemical to the activated charcoal. Desorption may occur unless the ratio of charcoal to toxin is extremely high.

Activated charcoal is available under the following different brand names: Actidose-Aqua, charcoal (activated), CharcoalAid, Insta-Char, Liqui-Char, and Superchar.

Dosages of Activated Charcoal Should Be Given As Follows:

Adult and pediatric dosages:

  • 250 mg tablets
  • 260 mg capsules
  • 208 mg/ml liquid
  • 25 g suspension
  • 50 g suspension
  • 25 mg pellets for suspension

Dosage Considerations

Adult poisoning

  • 1 g/kg, 25-100 g orally.
  • Alternatively 10 g charcoal/1 g drug ratio
  • Minimum dose = 25 g

Commonly used with sorbitol 25 g; multiple dose regimen 25 g orally every 2 hours or 50 g every 4 hours without sorbitol.

Do not give sorbitol after first dose due to risk for severe diarrhea; use aqueous solution.

Dose cathartic once daily if used.

Shake vigorously prior to use.

Administer in closed container with straw; may place on ice to improve taste; mix 1:3 soda for pediatrics.

Multiple doses used with dapsone, carbamazepine, digitoxin and digoxin, phenobarbital, theophylline, meprobamate, and quinine.

Pediatric poisoning

Aqueous suspension

Infants: 1 g/kg/dose orally, may repeat every 4-6 hours.

Children: 1-2 g/kg/dose (or 25-50 g/dose) orally, may repeat every 4-6 hours.

Adolescents: 5-10 times the estimated weight of drug/chemical ingested (or 50-100 g/dose) orally, may repeat every 4-6 hours.

Sorbitol suspension

Infants and children: Not indicated; due to the risk for severe diarrhea associated with sorbitol suspension, the aqueous formulation is recommended.

Adolescents: 50 g as a single dose orally; not recommended for multiple dosage regimens (use aqueous solutions for repeat dosing).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/14/2017

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