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Chemical Poisoning

What can cause chemical poisoning?

Common sources of chemical poisoning include:

  • Household cleaners

  • Laundry detergent

  • Drain cleaners

  • Varnishes

  • Agricultural products

  • Plants

  • Industrial chemicals

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:

  • Severe throat pain

  • Trouble breathing

  • Burns on the lips or mouth

  • Sudden behavior changes, such as abnormal sleepiness, irritability, or jumpiness

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Stomach cramps with no fever

  • Abnormal drooling or odd odor on the breath

  • Convulsions or unconsciousness (severe cases only)

What to do in case of chemical poisoning

The first action when a person has swallowed a toxic substance and is alert is to call Poison Control at 800-222-1222. This number will connect you to a local poison center that is free, confidential, and available 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

If a person is not breathing, unconscious, or having convulsions or seizures because of poisoning, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.

Don't give a person who has been poisoned ipecac. This is a chemical used to cause vomiting (emetic). It's made from the dried root of a plant grown in Brazil called ipecacuanha. Ipecac was commonly used in the past. Guidelines now say not to use it because it can cause more harm than good.

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