Poisoning

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Poisoning

Poisoning may result due to accidental or intentional exposure (swallowing, inhalation, skin contact, eye contact, injection) to a poisonous substance. Common poisons are household poisons, industrial poisons, drugs, alcohol, poisonous plants or food.

I. Household poisoning

  • Swallowing
    • Check the victim’s airway, breathing and pulse. Begin CPR, if necessary.
    • Arrange for medical help immediately.
    • If possible, try to identify the poison as it may help the doctor in proper treatment.

CAUTIONS:

  • Do not try to induce vomiting.

 

  • Skin contact
    • Rinse the affected area with plenty of water to wash off the chemical on the skin.
    • Be careful not to re-contaminate the victim with the rinsing water.
    • Get medical help immediately.

II. Industrial poisoning

Industrial poisoning may occur at the workplace due to inhaled gases or chemical spillage.

  • Inhaled gases
    • Move the victim out from the gas filled area into fresh air.
    • If the victim is unconscious, check breathing and pulse and begin CPR, if necessary.
    • Immediately arrange for medical help.
  • Chemical spillage
    • Wash off the excess chemical on the skin with running water.
    • Be careful not to re-contaminate the victim or yourself with the rinsing water.
    • If the victim becomes unconscious, check breathing and pulse and resuscitate, if necessary.
    • Call for medical help immediately.

III. Alcohol poisoning

Alcohol depresses the activity of the central nervous system. Small amounts of alcohol intake slows down the body reactions, whereas excessive amounts can lead to intoxication or poisoning.

Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Numbness
  • Flushed and moist face
  • Restlessness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Deep and noisy breathing
  • Unconsciousness

First Aid

  • If the victim is not responding, check breathing and pulse. Begin CPR, if necessary.
  • Protect the victim from a cold environment.
  • Call for medical help.

IV. Poisonous plants

Poisonous plants if consumed can be harmful and can cause serious illness.

Plants which may be poisonous are :

  • Mushrooms (death cap, amanita muscari etc.)
  • Berries (wild arum, mistletoe etc.)

First Aid

  • If the victim is unconscious, check breathing and pulse and provide rescue breathing, if necessary.
  • Arrange for medical help immediately.

CAUTIONS:

  • Do not try to induce vomiting.

V. Food poisoning

Food poisoning can be defined as poisoning due to consumption of food which is contaminated with toxins produced by bacterial groups such as Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, Cl. botulinum, etc.

Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain / cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fever

First Aid

  • Make the victim lie down in a comfortable position.
  • Give the victim water or fluids like fruit juice. This may help to maintain the fluid and electrolyte balance.
  • The patient may recover within 12 – 24 hours. Arrange for medical help if the victim’s condition worsens.

VI. Drug poisoning

  • Drug poisoning may be accidental, due to an over dosage of medication or active drug abuse.
  • Different drugs require different specific antidotes.
  • Look for any discarded medicine bottles or tablet strips: they may provide the doctor vital clues about the antidote to be given.
  • Note down the size of the pupils, respiration rate, heart rate, and skin color.
  • If necessary, give CPR if the patient needs resuscitation.
  • If the patient vomits, collect it in a container to show the doctor.
  • If the patient can swallow, and has not taken a corrosive agent, give 8 to 10 Activated Charcoal tablets (available at any chemist shop) to swallow.