Poisoning can happen in numerous ways. Ingesting a poisonous substance or inhaling dangerous fumes are two common means of poisoning. In some cases, you may not know that a person was exposed to a poisonous substance. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of poisoning as well as what to do if you suspect poisoning of any type.
Poisoning – Signs and Symptoms
Different poisons have different effects on the body’s systems. Because poisons have such unpredictable effects, monitor someone you suspect may have been poisoned. Watch for changes in heart rhythm, excessive or scanty salivation, unusual pupil dilations, changes in respiration rate or complaints of pain. Neurological symptoms such as fatigue, hyperactivity or confusion may be more challenging to detect.
Poisoning – What You Should Do
If you know someone has ingested poison and can identify the poisonous substance, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 immediately for posoin help and instructions. Keep the packaging, if any, for the poison nearby; Poison Control staff will ask you questions about it to determine the proper course of action. The Poison Control Center may also be able to advise you without knowing the nature of the poison. However, the emergency room is a safer option if the substance is unknown. The hospital will have the diagnostic tools needed to identify the poison and treat the patient properly. If the person isn’t breathing, call 911 immediately.
Poisoning – Home Treatments
Depending on the nature of the poison, you may be able to treat the poisoning at home. First aid at home may also slow the poison’s effects until you can seek medical help. Remove a person who has succumbed to an inhalant poison from the area so no further poisoning occurs. If the eyes have been exposed, rinse them with clear water for 15 to 20 minutes. Exposed skin can also be rinsed for 15 to 20 minutes to remove the poison. Remove any contaminated clothes as well. Do not induce vomiting of swallowed poisons unless directed to do so by Poison Control or by a 911 operator. If you call Poison Control or 911, follow all directions until help arrives.
Identifying possible poisoning and knowing how to treat it can save lives.