Apr 25, 2017

What are the signs and symptoms of being poisoned?

signs and symptoms of poisoned

What is poison?

Poison is a toxic substance that is unsafe for the body. One may swallow it, breathe it, infuse it or assimilate it through the skin. Poisonous substances can include:

  • Solutions or over-the-counter prescriptions taken in the form of medications that are too high in dosage
  • Overdoses of illegal medications or drugs
  • Carbon monoxide from gas apparatuses
  • Family unit items, like, laundry powder or furniture polish
  • Pesticides
  • Indoor or open air plants
  • Metals like lead and mercury

Common causes and risk factors for poisoning

Before we move further to the symptoms of poisoning and analyze the tests required for its treatment, it’s essential to understand the causes and risk factors that can lead to poisoning. Common signs of poisoning in humans are as follows:-

  • Automobile fluids
  • Foreign objects like batteries and toys
  • Alcohol
  • Art supplies and office supplies
  • Paints and thinners
  • Cleaning products used at home, such as washing/dishwasher detergents or drain cleaners
  • Personal care products
  • Prescription medicine

In most cases of poisoning, it is seen that it:

  • Happens at home
  • Develops suddenly
  • Is accidental or unintentional in nature
  • Includes kids under the age of 6 years

Certain things and substances can cause poisoning in humans, especially in children. Common causes of poisoning in children include: 

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  • Personal care products like beauty creams, lotions, cosmetics, mouthwash, etc.
  • Cleaning products and chemicals used in households like pesticides and cleaning agents
  • Prescription or over-the-counter medicines like cold and cough medicines, painkillers, vitamins or daily supplements.

Some types of childhood poisonings grow over time, due to repetitive or chronic exposure to small amounts of poisonous toxic substances. Lead poisoning is more typical in young kids and can cause harm to their neurological system. The condition develops gradually, after a kid is exposed to lead. This long-lasting exposure develops into poison. It is, therefore, important to keep children away from such harmful substances and if in case they showcase any symptoms of poisoning, take an action. Get a test for poison done right away.

Most poisoning instances in kids happen at home. These are unexpected and unintentional in nature and hence are termed as accidental poisoning situations. According to many pieces of research, boys who age between 1 and 3 years are at the highest risk of getting exposed to poisonous substances. A child’s home environment can give birth to many hazard problems. For instance, kids who live in older homes that contain lead paint, are at an increased risk for poisoning. People who live in homes that have an old or non-functioning heating equipment are also exposed to the risk. It is highly advised that parents must keep a check on their kids and ensure they do not wind near toxic substances. In case

Intentional poisoning, also known as self-poisoning may indicate manipulative conduct, drug abuse or attempted suicide. Certain emotional wellness conditions (like melancholy or general nervousness issue) and family brokenness increase the risk of intentional poisoning amid the people. Though many researches showcase that intentional poisoning in young people is generally uncommon, however, it has turned out to be more pervasive of late. Young ladies are eight times more probable than young men to attempt suicide by deliberate self-harming, which usually includes sedative overdose.

Signs of poisoning in humans

The signs and symptoms of poisoning depend on the amount and type of poison taken, the kind of exposure (ingestion, absorption by the skin, inhalation), age and health of the person infected. It is important to note that in some cases, there are not many noticeable symptoms of poisoning. While in many other cases, these are prominently visible from the start.

Below mentioned are mild symptoms of poisoning:

  1. Behavioral changes – These include crankiness and restlessness
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Dizziness
  4. Drowsiness
  5. Tiredness
  6. Headache
  7. Loss of appetite
  8. Minor skin irritation
  9. Nausea
  10. Upset stomach
  11. Passing cough
  12. Stiffness or soreness in joints
  13. Thirst

Moderate symptoms of poisoning are usually prolonged (i.e. They are long-lasting) and systemic (i.e. They influence more than one organ, organ framework, or some portions of the body), and regularly require treatment. Moderate signs of poisoning in humans include the following:

  1. Blurred vision
  2. Confusion and disorientation
  3. Difficulty in breathing
  4. Drooling
  5. Excessive tearing
  6. Fever
  7. Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  8. Loss of muscle control and muscle twitching
  9. Paleness or flushed skin
  10. Continuous cough
  11. Increase in heart rate
  12. Seizures
  13. Severe diarrhea
  14. Severe nausea
  15. Stomach cramps
  16. Sweating
  17. Thirst
  18. Trembling
  19. Weakness

Severe symptoms of poisoning are life threatening. These can result in permanent brain damage, disorder or death. These are as follows:-

  1. Cardiopulmonary arrest
  2. Convulsions
  3. Uncontrolled bleeding or blood clotting
  4. Esophageal stricture (narrowing of the organ that carries food from the mouth to the stomach)
  5. High fever
  6. Difficulty in breathing
  7. Very fast breathing
  8. Loss of consciousness
  9. Uncontrolled and severe twitching of muscle
  10. Rapid heart rate
  11. Low blood pressure
  12. Respiratory distress that requires intubation
  13. Seizures which do not respond to treatment (Status Epilepticus)
  14. Extreme thirst

How to reduce the risk of poisoning

Now that we have clearly explained the visible symptoms of poisoning – from mild to severe, we must know the steps we can take to prevent poisoning or at least reduce the risk of poisoning. Mentioned below are some pointers that should be taken care of to prevent the condition.

Reduce the risk of poisoning caused due to the intake of certain medicines

  • Keep all medicines (including over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements, and natural medications) out of the range of kids
  • Store all medications in their unique compartments
  • Try not to carry medicines in your pockets, purse or coat, where it might be found by a kid
  • Supervise kids and never leave medicines unattended
  • Do not take medicines in front of a child
  • Read all instructions and guidelines before giving a medicine to a child
  • Never give a child a medicine that is intended for someone else or something else
  • Never refer a medicine as a sweet or candy/toffee
  • Discard all the expired medicines

Reduce the risk of accidental poisoning, which includes household and different chemicals:

  • Store all items in their unique compartments, out of the reach of children
  • Do not store household products near food items
  • Ensure that the area is properly ventilated while using the household chemicals
  • Teach kids to never smell a container to find its content

Sickness or death by poison is a serious matter. To analyze the depth of the condition, doctors take a note on the patient’s history (including data about exposure to poisonous or toxic substance and symptoms) and suggest a series of tests for diagnosing the exact cause of the condition. While most poisons can be diagnosed with the help of a blood or urine test, there are many others that require specialized hefty-natured tests. On the basis of test results, medications are suggested and treatments are carried out.

In the case of kids, it is advised that parents must furnish as much information as possible to the doctor regarding the kids’ exposure to toxins which could be a plausible reason behind the chronic condition. This includes informing the doctors about how long was the kid exposed to the poisonous or toxic substance; the quantity of poisonous or toxic substance taken in by the child; and what kind of symptoms has he/she experienced over the past few days.

The key is to act fast and take necessary actions. Physicians all over the world suggest that if a person experiences any symptoms of poisoning – be it mild, medium or severe, it’s imperative to get a test for poison done right away. Failure to do so can lead to the onset of many fatal conditions within the body.

Several leading pathology chains of India like Dr Lal PathLabs, offer test for poison. A single such test can help in detecting the problem right away and suggesting a path forward to correcting the issue and saving life. For a human life is very precious. 

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