Poisoning: First-Aid

A lot of medical conditions have symptoms that are similar to the signs and symptoms of poisoning including seizures, stroke, insulin reaction, and alcohol intoxication.

If you suspect poisoning, look for the following signs and symptoms:

  • Burns or redness around the mouth which results from drinking certain poisons.
  • Breath that smells like chemicals
  • Stains, odors, and burns on the person, his or her clothes, or on the furniture or other objects in the surrounding are.
  • Empty medication bottles or scattered pills
  • Vomiting, difficulty breathing, sleepiness, confusion, or other signs

You should also check with the poison control center at 800-222-1222 (in the United States) before your administering anything to the affected person.

When to call for help

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number if the person is:
  • Unconscious or dozy
  • Having difficulty breathing or has stopped breathing altogether
  • Uncontrollably restless or agitated
  • Having seizures

However, if the person appears stable, but you still suspect poisoning, call the poison control center. If possible, provide information about what the person ingested, how much and when.

What to do while waiting for help

  • If the person has been exposed to poisonous fumes, get him or her into fresh air immediately.
  • If the person ingested poison, take out anything remaining in the mouth.
  • If you think the poison is a household cleaner or some other chemical, read label and following the instructions for accidental poisoning. The label will likely be advised to call the poison control center if the poison is toxic. You can also call 800 if you can not identify the poison, if it is medication or if there are no instructions.
  • Follow the treatment directions given by the poison control center.
  • If the poison spilled on the person’s clothing, skin or eyes, remove the clothing. Wash the skin or eyes with cool or lukewarm water. You can use a shower for 20 minutes or until help arrives.
  • Take the container or pill bottles with you to the hospital.

What not to do

Do not give ipecac syrup to the person or do anything to induce vomiting. According the American Academy of Pediatrics advised discarding ipecac in the home back in 1993, saying that there is no good evidence of effectiveness, and it can even do more harm than good.

Source: MayoClinic