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Topic ClosedA Myth About Silver Nitrate??

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Direct Link To This Post Topic: A Myth About Silver Nitrate??
    Posted: 29 November 2006 at 12:52

I'm somewhat conflicted and confused about some information about silver nitrate. This is not a query about opinion, but if you have concrete info, please respond.

We've all been warned about NEVER getting silver nitrate in our eyes. I'm rethinking this - is it true? If it is, why do they (or have they) been putting it in newborn's eyes for years? I know it's an antibiotic and still used as a "caustic stick" in hospitals. There's a lot of conflicting information. I think it's based on a ver, very weak solution, but still. 

Here's what I've found:

From AllRefererHealth.com
Because of the significance of neonatal conjunctivitis, all hospitals (most required by State law) routinely use silver nitrate or antibiotic drops, such as erythromycin, in the newborn's eyes to prevent disease. Silver nitrate is no longer commonly used and has been mostly replaced by antibiotic eye drops.

From the American Foundation for the Blind:
There is a remedy for ophthalmia neonatorum. This is an instillation of nitrate of silver solution into the eyes of the child. It is efficacious if promptly and skillfully applied. It is not, however, infallible, and in unskillful hands it may do great harm. The mother who sees in the eyes of her baby the symptoms which I have described should lose no time in summoning the assistance of an intelligent physician.

Let no one suppose that this is idle advice. In France and Germany the laws require that the eyes of every child shall be treated with nitrate of silver solution as soon as it is born, and in those countries there has been a considerable decrease in blindness from the scourge of ophthalmia neonatorum. And what do the wise lawmakers of America do? A bill for the prevention of blindness introduced in the Illinois Legislature failed to pass because it was argued that this was only another scheme of doctors to provide fees for themselves! But, at best, the law is concerned only with the remedy. The people themselves, and only they, can wipe out the cause.

Can anyone respond to this?

 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 November 2006 at 13:13

I was been told by a doctor that he used to perform silver nitrate treatments to newborns.  I asked the same question:  Why is it stated that silver nitrate can and will cause blindness if it gets to your eyes, but newborns have been treated with silver nitrate for years, and still do in other countries.

His response was good, but vague....Would you want to put silver nitrate in your eyes haphazardly, or would you want  a  doctor, trained to do so, to apply his supply of silver nitrate for application to the eyes into your eyes? 

His training was that he was not to apply the solotion to childern over a certain age (he could not remember the age) and that it was in fact, very dangerous to get silver into parts of the eyes due to the absorbtion of the silver into the tissue of the eye...that was the issue to him....parts of the eyes.  Are parts of the eye more sensitive to silver nitrate (or any other introduced chemical)...is there an area on the eye that is "tougher" than another area?

Concrete info, no....but its a thought to ponder. 

Is there a solution (ratio of silver to water) that is "safe" if in contact with the eyes, or is the 9% that so many of us use "fatal" to our sight? 

I guess concentration of silver solution and the method of application to the eyes is the avenue I think you need to look at when determining the safety of using silver nitrate and the effect it may have on our sight if it is splashed/poured/etc into our eyes.

My pondering.

chris

        Chris Morgan
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    www.thesilverbath.com
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 November 2006 at 13:17
Silver Nitrate is, in the US at least, no longer used for neonatal
conjunctivitis, and has been replaced by an antibiotic gel which is placed in
the infants eyes just after birth.

The Silver Nitrate solution used against neonatal conjunctivitis was/is fairly
dilute, however I can't tell you why it didn't stain the baby's eyes and thus
blind them...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 November 2006 at 15:48

I've heard that silver nitrate can be used as a topical antibiotic for finger cuts. Just mix a 1% solution, apply to the cut, and bandage it. From what I've read, its a unique antibiotic because bacteria can't become immune to it...it just kills them! Got a toothache? An old remedy for this was to mix a very dilute solver nitrate solution, soak a cotton ball, and apply it against the tooth under the lip...I wouldn't recommend this as I don't know what swallowing this stuff in such a concentration would do, but thats what was done in many cases....it killed whatever infection that was brewing.

 

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 November 2006 at 18:17

Colloidal silver is another usefull material that is used for treating infections and some diseases. It can be purchased at health food stores or make your own as I do, it's much cheaper that way. From what I have learned, it containes 5-15 parts per-million of silver.

I have used it to good effect on tooh aches, monor burnes and small wounds.

There is alot of bashing out there about colloidal silver but I still make and use it.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 November 2006 at 03:23
Silver - in one form or another - has been used since ancient times to purify.  Greeks kept water in silver vessels, pioneers put silver coins or objects in water barrels.  It is still used in water purification today - I even have a ceramic/silver filter somewhere!

My mother was a nurse, and when we lived above the doctors surgery she used to get silver nitrate for my dad's toothache - common practice at the time.  A common modern application is the silver-lined adhesive elastoplast for wounds.

A lot of things used in medicine have to be used in very weak dilutions - the silver nitrate solution used for babies eyes since the late 1800's to prevent blindness being transmitted by mothers with gonorrhea or chlamydia is a 1% solution.  When originally used, the concentration went up due to evaporation, and some babies were blinded anyway.  That led to sealed, one-shot containers.  The 1% solution is said to cause swollen eyes, irritation and blurred vision - for a few days! - in babies.

Silver nitrate is also used in concentrated form.  when the crystals are fused into solid rods it is known as 'lunar caustic' - because it burns and discolours the skin.  These rods are still sold as 'caustic pencils' to treat warts or cauterize wounds.

Regards,
Neil.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 December 2006 at 18:38

FWIW,

During my high school days ('66-'70) I was treated with with 10% silver nitrate solution for ulcers on my tonsil's.  The doctor would dip a q-tip in the solution and wipe it on the ulcer and then hold it with pressure against the ulcer for about 10-15 seconds.  Two days later - all gone.

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 December 2006 at 14:34
The sad thing is that this practice originated in the 19th century as a prevention for "ophthalmia neonatorum" - caused by syphilis. If the mother is infected with syphilis, the child has a quite large chance of picking up the bacterium through the eyes during birth.

The fact that syphilis is curable with antibiotics, and ophthalmia neonatorum from syphilis hasn't been even a theoretical risk for the past 80 years hasn't changed the practice.

Wet plate photographers aren't the only ones sticking to outdated practices...
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