Poisoning: What to do if an individual is poisoned?

Being poisoned can be life-threatening. If an individual ingested a poisonous substance, do not attempt to treat the individual. It is vital to seek immediate medical care for poisoning. Once the individual shows indications of being seriously sick, call for emergency assistance or bring him/her to the nearest emergency department.

Symptoms linked with severe poisoning

  • Abrupt, noticeable heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Feeling sick
  • Dizziness
  • Uncontrollable restlessness or agitation
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Seizures or fits
    Poisoning

    If you suspect that an individual has been severely poisoned and still conscious, instruct him/her to sit still and stay with him/her while waiting for the medical team to arrive.

  • Drowsiness or loss of consciousness

It is best to consult a doctor if an individual who has been poisoned does not appear to be seriously sick.

How to assist a conscious individual

If you suspect that an individual has been severely poisoned and still conscious, instruct him/her to sit still and stay with him/her while waiting for the medical team to arrive. In case the individual has been poisoned by swallowing something, try to get him/her to spit out anything remaining in the mouth.

Once a harmful substance splashed onto the skin or clothes, you have to remove any contaminated items and cleanse the affected area thoroughly using warm or cool water. Just be careful not to end up contaminated in the process.

How to help an individual who loses consciousness

If an individual ingested poison and appears to be unconscious, try to wake him/her and encourage spitting out anything left in the mouth. Avoid putting your hand into the mouth and do not try to make him/her sick.

While waiting for the medical team to arrive, allow the individual to lie on his/her side using a pillow positioned behind the back and the upper leg slightly pulled forward so that he/she will not fall on the face or roll backwards. This is called as the recovery position.

Make sure that you will wipe any vomit from the mouth and keep the head pointed down so that the vomit can escape without breathing it in or swallowing it. Avoid giving the individual anything to drink or eat. In case the individual is not breathing or the heart stops, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

How to deal with poisonous fumes

If an individual inhaled poisonous fumes, you have to initially assess the scenario and do not put yourself in danger.

In case the individual is conscious, try to encourage him/her to leave the contaminated area if possible. Once out in the open, check if he/she is okay and call for emergency assistance if there are any indications of serious poisoning.

Call for emergency assistance if the individual is unconscious or unable to get out of the area. Do not enter any enclosed areas to remove the individual since toxic fumes and gases can be dangerous once inhaled.

Treatment at the hospital

Some individuals who ingested a poisonous substance or overdosed on a particular medication should be hospitalized for assessment and proper treatment. The possible treatments for poisoning include the following:

  • Activated charcoal is oftentimes used since it binds to the poison and prevents it from being absorbed further into the bloodstream.
  • Sedatives are given if the person is agitated.
  • Antidotes are substances that either prevents the poison from taking effect or reversing it.
  • Anti-epileptic medications can be given if the individual experiences a seizure.
  • A ventilator or breathing device is used if the individual ceases to breathe.

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