What is poisoning?
Poison is any substance that is harmful to your body. Many different types of poison exist. Poisonous substances can be products you have in your house. Medicines that aren’t taken as directed can be harmful. There are several ways you can be exposed to poison. You could breathe it in, swallow it, or absorb it through your skin. Poisoning can be an accident or a planned action.
What can cause chemical poisoning?
Common sources of chemical poisoning include:
1. Household cleaners.
2. Laundry detergent.
3. Drain cleaners.
5. Agricultural products.
6. Plants such as poison ivy and poison oak .
7. Industrial chemicals.
8. Paint thinner.
9. Pesticides and bug spray.
10. Lawn chemicals, such as herbicides, fertilizers, and fungicides.
11. Metals, such as lead.
12. Mercury, which can be found in old thermometers and batteries. Mixing chemicals can also result in a chemical poisoning. Identifying the type of poison involved is important to effectively treat the person.
What are the symptoms of a chemical poisoning?
Different chemicals will cause different symptoms.
Common symptoms can include:
1. Severe throat pain.
2. Trouble breathing.
3. Burns on the lips or mouth.
4. Sudden behavior changes, such as abnormal sleepiness, irritability, or jumpiness.
5. Nausea or vomiting.
6. Stomach cramps with no fever.
7. Abnormal drooling or odd odor on the breath.
8. Convulsions or unconsciousness (severe cases only).
9. Dilated pupils (bigger than normal) or constricted pupils (smaller than normal).
Can poisoning be prevented or avoided?
The best way to prevent poisoning is to avoid contact with harmful substances. Below are some guidelines you should follow.
▪️ Keep all household substances out of the reach of children. You should put them in high or locked cabinets. This includes medicine, cleaning products, and other harmful chemicals. You also can childproof your house with safety locks and guards.
▪️ Wear protective clothing, like gloves, when you use cleaners and chemicals.
▪️ Avoid using pesticides, paint thinner, and similar chemicals inside the house or garage. Try to find non-chemical solutions. If you do use these chemicals inside, keep the area well aired.
▪️ Don’t mix chemicals. They may become poisonous when mixed. Bleach and ammonia are one example. When you mix them together, they create a deadly gas.
▪️ Keep medicines and chemicals in their original containers.
▪️ Label everything inside your medicine cabinet.
▪️ Get rid of old or expired medicines and household products. Dispose of them safely, per FDA and hazardous waste guidelines. Call poison control for more information.
▪️ Follow all product label directions.Have all gas-fueled, oil-fueled, and wood-fueled appliances serviced regularly. Be sure they are well vented.
▪️ Never run your car in the garage, other than when you are coming or leaving.
▪️ Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. Regularly test and replace the batteries.
Treatment depends on the person and the type of poisoning. In this situation, try your best to stay calm. The first step is to get away from or remove the poison if you can. If the poison is in the air, move to a safe place with fresh air. If the poison is on the skin, rinse it off with water and remove nearby clothing. If the person swallowed the poison, do not try to induce vomiting. This approach is no longer recommended.
If the poisoned person is awake and alert, call the poison control center . You should have this number stored in your house and phone. Stay on the phone with the operator and follow all instructions.
Try to have the following information ready:
▪️ The person’s age and weight.
▪️ The person’s address.
▪️ The type of poisonous substance they were exposed to.
▪️ The time of the incident.
▪️ A list of allergies the person has.
Call 911 if the poisoned person is unconscious or not breathing. The medical team will provide additional treatment. They can use methods to get rid of the poison before it causes more harm. Some types of poison have antidotes. These work by reversing the poison’s effects and curing it. Treatment also includes measures to relieve symptoms.
Poisonous Contamination of Skin and Eyes:
First: First Aid in cases of Chemical and Household Cleaners Poisoning:
1. Check breath and provide C.P.R if needed.
2. Give cold milk and egg white.
3. Give strong pain reliever.
4. Do not force victim to vomit.
5. No gastric lavage.
6. No acids, such as vinegar and lime juice in case of acid poisoning.
7. Take victim immediately to hospital.
Second: Disinfectants and sterilants (phenol, dettol and formalin).
Excessive exposure to such toxic materials by touching or inhaling may cause poisoning, so ventilation is highly important after using these materials.
First Aid in cases of swallowing household disinfectants and sterilants:
1. For skin contamination, wash with plenty of water, then dilute with 10% alcohol; better use olive or castor oil.
2. If case of drinking disinfectants, better give ipecac to induce vomiting, only when victim is conscious.
3. Take victim immediately to hospital.
Second: Inhalation Poisoning:
Many poisoning cases occur due to inhaling toxic fumes or gases, where the toxin rapidly hits the bloodstream. So, administer first aid as fast as possible in these cases following these instructions:
1. Take the victim immediately away from the from the poisonous aerated milieu to clean air, while removing any tight clothes and untying the necktie.
2. Provide rescue breaths in case of respiratory failure of difficulty after removing anything inside the mouth as follows:
▪️ Titling the head back to open the airway, while closing the nose trills with two fingers, taking a deep breath, blowing air into the victim’s lungs through the mouth; then watching the victim’s chest rise accordingly.
▪️ Allow the victim to exhale which watching his chest fall.
▪️ Repeat same procedure till the victim breathes normally.
3. Warm up victim if sign of cold or chill is found.
4. Calm down the victim if conscious.
5. Take patient immediately to hospital.
Third: Skin Poisoning:
Skin may be contaminated by caustics which cause major skin damage, in which case such caustics must be removed as fast as possible as follows:
1. Wash skin with running water while removing the victim’s clothes, then wash the skin with water and dilute with soap.
2. Do not apply any medication or chemicals to the contaminated skin least they should aggravate the skin damage.
Fourth: Eye Poisoning: First aid for eye poisoning:
1. Open eyelids and wash with running water (at low pressure) for at least 10 minutes.
2. No eye drops.
3. Take patient immediately to hospital.
Naturopaths sometimes recommend patients suspected of chronic chemical poisoning to follow a “detoxification diet” for at least several months. Pregnant women, small children, or very frail people should avoid taking this diet. A detox diet has the following characteristics:
▪️ Low fat intake to increase fat mobilization (moving fat from storage to be used for energy). Limited consumption of olive oil and vegetable oils is allowed.
▪️ Limited intake of sugar and highly processed foods, and avoidance of alcohol, caffeine , and tobacco.
▪️ High fiber consumption to absorb the toxic chemicals and eliminate them from the body.
▪️ Limited consumption of red meat. The bulk of protein intake should come from vegetable sources, such as legumes and tofu, as well as fish from unpolluted waters.
▪️ Strong emphasis on organic fruits and vegetables (and their juices) with detoxification effects. They include papayas, apples, pears, strawberries, dark green leafy vegetables, carrots, beets, and garlic. Antioxidant foods, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, yams, tomatoes, peaches, watermelon, hot peppers, green tea , red grapes, citrus fruits, soybeans, and whole grains are also recommended.
▪️ Increased water intake to at least eight glasses of water per day to help eliminate waste from the body.
▪️ Dietary supplementation with high potency multivitamin/mineral products.