Injury or death due to inhaling, swallowing, or injecting various drugs, chemicals or venom is known as poisoning. Many a time the products which lead to poisoning are present at home which include certain cleaning products, insecticides, herbicides, radiator coolants, petrol, and certain cosmetics. Such accidents can very well occur at home, hence it is important to know about first aid for poisoning.
First Aid for Poisoning
Victims of unintentional poisoning are children, mostly under the age group of 3- 6 years. They are highly inquisitive and tend to put anything in their mouths. Everyone should be educated on how to manage a case of poisoning, the first aid information is very important in such cases. Let us look at the important aspects of first aid for poisoning.
Before moving to the first aid and treatment part, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of poisoning. If you note these signs with a background of ingestion of possibly toxic substance, you can suspect poisoning.
Poisoning signs and symptoms can be a mimic of certain conditions such as alcohol intoxication, stroke, insulin reaction, and seizure. The symptoms include,
- Redness and burning in and around the mouth and lips
- The smell of chemicals such as petroleum, gasoline in the breath
- Difficulty in breathing
- Confusion of mind
- Altered mental status
The occurrence of symptoms and treatment also depends on the type of poisoning and the amount of poison which enters the body. If poisoning is suspected be alert to pick on any clues such as an empty bottle, pills, stains, or odor from near the patient. Following this, appropriate action first aid for poisoning must be taken.
Immediately contact emergency medical care if you notice the person is,
- Having difficulty in breathing
- Having seizures
- Uncontrollable and restless
- Known to have taken an overdose of medication intentionally or accidentally
Be prepared with all the information such as patient name, age, weight, any medications they were taking, and also information about the poison if you have any.
Here are some of the important tips of first aid for poisoning. Take the following actions till emergency medical help arrives,
In case of swallowed poison, particularly petrochemicals, it is better to avoid inducing vomiting. Studies suggest that inducing vomiting can have varying negative impacts and is best avoided until medical help arrives.1 Instead, remove any remains if present in the mouth, as an important step in first aid for poisoning. If poisoning is suspected from a household cleaner or chemical, read the accidental poisoning instructions and start the first aid.
- In case of skin poisoning, remove any contaminated cloth using gloves. Wash the skin for at least 15 minutes with normal temperature water.
- If there is poison in the eye, flush the eye with water for 15 minutes or until the help arrives. Do not put eye drops.
- If the case is of inhaled poison, bring out the person in the fresh air, as soon as possible. Open all the doors and windows if indoors.
- Never try to rescue a person from where highly toxic gas and fumes are present, without a breathing apparatus. You might end up being a victim yourself.
- In case of bites, or stings, serious allergic reactions appear. Symptoms such as swelling of the face, lips, and tongue, can be life-threatening and would require immediate medical care.
- If the child has accidentally swallowed the small batteries present in watches of other electronics, immediately take him for an emergency X-ray to determine its location. If the battery is in esophagus it needs to be removed immediately as it can lead to severe burns in the esophagus. If the battery has passed on to the stomach, it usually can pass out through the intestinal tract.
- If the person is vomiting, turn the head sideways to avoid choking.
- Start CPR if the person shows no signs of life i.e. if the person is not breathing, moving, or coughing.
- Gather all the clues and hand them over to the ambulance team, as it would be helpful in the treatment.
Call the poison information center even if the person is not showing any signs of discomfort or any symptoms of poisoning, but you know the person has taken in the poison ( eaten, drank or inhaled). This too is an important part of first aid for poisoning.
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