How To Treat Poisoning

Everyday Illnesses Common Remedies
First Aid For Poisonings

Most poisonings happen when a person (often a child) drinks some kind of household or garden chemical. Adult gardeners have been known accidentally to drink insecticides and weed killers that they themselves had stored in soft drink bottles. Some common plants can be toxic if eaten. Almost any non-food substance is poisonous if taken in large doses. Few cases are fatal but as many as 2 million children are taken to hospital with suspected poisoning every year. To reduce the risks, keep all medications and dangerous chemicals well out of reach of children, and never store weed killers or insecticides in unmarked bottles.

Warning Signs Of Poisoning

• Stomach pain
• Vomiting and nausea
• Diarrhea
• Erratic behavior or excessive sleepiness
• Unusual breath or body odor
• Difficulty in breathing
• Unconsciousness
• Burns around the mouth if the poison is corrosive, and severe pain throughout the mouth, throat and stomach.

What To Do

Swallowed Poison: If the person is conscious, try to find out what substance was swallowed. If it is a child, have them spit out any remaining substance. But do not try to make them vomit. Remember that the person may lose consciousness at any time. Look around for a container or the remains of a poisonous plant that might be a clue as to what has been taken. If the casualty has vomited, collect samples.
Skin Poison: Remove clothing and wash affected area in lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes.
Eye Poison: Flush the eye by holding it open and pouring a steady stream of room temperature water into the corner for 15 minutes.

If the person is unconscious, having convulsions or breathing problems, call an ambulance. Be sure to give the ambulance crew anything that may help to identify the poison, such as pill containers or a sample of vomit. If the person has mild symptoms and you want advice, you can call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222.

Drug Overdose

Anyone who has taken an overdose of a drug requires immediate medical attention. This applies to an overdose of a prescribed medicine or an over-the-counter drug such as aspirin or ibuprofen as much as it does to an illegal drug such as heroin.

Warning Signs
Symptoms depend on the size of the overdose and the type of drug, but they can include any of the following:
• Vomiting.
• Difficulty in breathing.
• Unconsciousness.
• Sweating.
• Hallucinations.
• Dilation or contraction of the pupils.
• Excessive and abnormal sleepiness, a state of confusion, or bizarre outbursts of speech.

What To Do
Call 911 for an ambulance. Ask for advice on what to do while waiting for help. Generally, don't induce vomiting unless a doctor or the ambulance personnel suggest it.
Don't try to keep a person who may have overdosed awake with strong black coffee or by walking about. Physical activity will only help to speed up absorption of the drug.
If the person loses consciousness, place him or her in the recovery position.

recovery position

Gas Poisoning

Many gases are toxic, including fumes from burning polyurethane, ammonia (used in refrigeration plants, cleaning products and fertilizers) and carbon monoxide from car exhaust fumes.

Warning Signs
Casualties of gas poisoning often demonstrate unsound judgment and are difficult and uncooperative. Some become confused or stupefied, or lose consciousness.

What To Do
Ammonia
The strong, acrid smell will alert you. Poisoning usually occurs only when trapped in an enclosed area. Do not enter without a mask. The gas disperses very slowly.
Burning Polyurethane Foam
These fumes can kill in minutes. Call the fire brigade and allow experts to handle the situation. Do not try anything yourself.
Carbon Monoxide
If you suspect that a car or garage is filled with carbon monoxide, open the doors and get any occupants into the open air.

In all cases of suspected gas poisoning, from whatever cause, make sure you check the airway, breathing and circulation. If necessary, dial 911 for an ambulance and administer CPR - see also hands only CPR.

Related Articles
How to treat alcohol poisoning: First aid treatment.
How to treat burns: Immediate remedies for burns.
How to stop someone choking: Different techniques explained.
How to treat someone with electric shock: Safety information.
How to treat food poisoning: Recognizing the signs and treatment.
How to treat a sprain: 3 steps to making a sling.
How to treat seizures: Signs and treatment.

• Other health issues? See: How to treat common illnesses.

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