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J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1997;35(3):315-20.

Bromism from excessive cola consumption.

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  • 1Division of Emergency Medicine and Clinical Toxicology, University of California, Davis Medical Center, Sacramento 95817, USA.



Bromism is an unusual occurrence. Historically bromism has been known to occur with chronic ingestion of bromide salts used as sleep medications. In this case, excessive consumption of a cola with brominated vegetable oil caused a severe case of bromism.


The patient presented with headache, fatigue, ataxia, and memory loss which progressed over 30 days. He consumed 2 to 4 L of cola containing brominated vegetable oil on a daily basis before presenting with these symptoms. His significantly elevated serum chloride, as measured by ion specific methods, and negative anion gaps were overlooked during a prior hospitalization and emergency department visits. A focal neurologic finding of right eyelid ptosis led to an extensive evaluation for a central nervous system lesion. The patient continued to deteriorate, until he was no longer able to walk. A diagnosis of severe bromism was eventually made and his serum bromide was confirmed at 3180 mg/L (39.8 mmol/L). Despite saline loading the patient failed to improve but subsequent hemodialysis dramatically cleared his clinical condition, and reduced his serum bromide levels. The unilateral eyelid ptosis, a rarely reported finding in bromism, also resolved with hemodialysis.


A negative anion gap or an elevated serum chloride should prompt an evaluation for bromism. In this case hemodialysis dramatically improved the patient's clinical condition and reduced the half-life of bromide to 1.38 h.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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