What Is Poisoning?
A substance that is harmful to the body, can injure or kill due to its chemical actions is called poison. The word “poison” is derived from the Latin word “potare”, meaning “to drink.” Most of the poisons are ingested (swallowed). Poisoning can be planned or can occur accidentally. However, you can be poisoned in other ways such as:
- Via the skin
- By breathing
- Exposure to radiation
- Insect bite or snake bite venom
- Through IV injection
- Through food or some liquid intake
What Are The Symptoms Of Poisoning?
The symptoms of poisoning depend on the kind of toxin, the amount and form of exposure (inhalation, absorption via skin or ingestion), age and the overall health condition.
The mild symptoms of being poisoned include:
- Dizziness, drowsiness
- Diarrhoea, changes in behavior (crankiness, restlessness, irritability)
- A headache, fatigue, loss of appetite
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Eye or skin irritation
- Stiffness or soreness of joints
- Thirst, cough which comes and goes
Moderate symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty in breathing
- Disorientation and confusion
- Tearing, drooling
- Fever, hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Pale skin, yellow or flushed skin
- A persistent cough, rapid heartbeat
- Seizures, muscle twitching and loss of muscle control
- Severe nausea, severe diarrhea, stomach cramps
- Thirst, sweating, weakness, trembling
Severe symptoms can cause disability, brain damage and even death and the symptoms include:
- Convulsions, cardiopulmonary arrest, high Fever
- Disseminated intravascular coagulation (uncontrolled blood clotting or bleeding)
- Narrowing of esophagus, inability to breathe, rapid breathing
- Loss of consciousness, rapid heart rate along with low blood pressure
- Extreme thirst, respiratory distress that needs breathing assistance
- Status Epilepticus (seizures which do not respond to treatment)
- Severe and uncontrolled twitching of muscles
What Are The Causes Of Poisoning?
Poisoning can occur due to various causes such as:
- Household products like detergents, cleaning products, paint thinners, etc.
- Personal care products such as mouthwash, nail polish remover, etc.
- Bug sprays and pesticides
- Garden chemicals such as fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, etc.
- Metals such as lead
- Mercury in old batteries and thermometers
- Some varieties of mushrooms
- Plants such as poison oak, poison ivy, etc.
- Drinking water that has been contaminated by industrial or agricultural chemicals
- Food not handled or prepared properly
- Spoiled/ rotten food
- OTC and prescription drugs when taken the wrong way or if combined
- Inhaling carbon monoxide gas
- Illegal drugs
- Venom from certain insect or snake bites
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Poisoning?
- Ensure that you are aware of all the poisons in your home and take the necessary steps to protect your children from the various toxic substances.
- Store all cleaners, cosmetics, medications, chemicals, etc. out of reach of your kids.
- If you suspect poisoning of any kind, get help immediately.
- If the person has swallowed poison, remove any poison that is remaining in the mouth and call emergency or Poison Control immediately.
- If the person who has been poisoned vomits then clear the airway of the person. Wrap a cloth around your fingers before cleaning the vomit from the throat and mouth.
- Keep the person who has suffered from poisoning comfortable and roll him/her to the left side until help arrives.
- If the poison has dropped onto the person’s clothes, then remove the clothes and wash the skin with water.
- If the poison has entered the eye, then flush the eye with lukewarm water and repeat it every 15-20 minutes. Don’t force the eyelid open and ask the person to blink several times while flushing the eye.
- If a person has inhaled poison, get the person to fresh air. Open out the windows and doors and if the person is not breathing, then begin artificial respiration immediately.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Poisoning?
Don’t eat any mushrooms, berries, roots or wild plants unless you know about them.
In the case of a person being poisoned:
- Do not try an induce vomiting in a person who has consumed poison.
- Do not give Ipecac syrup to a person who has consumed poison.
- Do not use activated charcoal to the affected person.
- If the person is unconscious, don’t give them anything via the mouth.
- Do not try and neutralize the poison by using vinegar, lime juice, etc.
What Are The Best Foods For Poisoning?
- Liquids are essential for the body to fight off the effects of the poison. Start taking small sips of water or sucking on ice chips.
- Sports drinks contain electrolytes that prevent dehydration. You can also have clear soda, vegetable or chicken broth and tea to stay hydrated in case of poisoning.
- If you are having nausea after a case of poisoning and you feel that you cannot hold the food, then eat bland foods that are soothing to the stomach and GI tract.
- Eat low-fat, low-fiber, bland foods such as cereal, bananas, oatmeal, Jell-O, egg whites, peanut butter, honey, plain or mashed potatoes, saltines, toast, white rice, and applesauce.
- In the case of poisoning, it is important to maintain the electrolyte balance and so you can have broth, saltines, and bananas, which contain sodium, potassium, and water.
What Are The Worst Foods For Poisoning?
- Avoid fatty foods as they worsen the nauseous feeling.
- Avoid foods that are high in fiber, as the stomach cannot digest such foods such as brown rice, multigrain cereal, etc. Stick low-fiber foods like white rice, white pasta, etc.
- Avoid spicy foods as this can irritate your stomach and can worsen the symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, etc.
- Avoid fried foods such as chips, French fries, and foods with heavy sauces such as pasta with white creamy sauce, mayonnaise, etc. as these foods worsen the nausea and will make you feel sicker.
- Avoid dairy as the digestive system may not be able to digest foods such as full-fat milk, cheese, etc.
- Avoid raw meats, fish, unpasteurized milk and milk products, fruit juices, etc.
What Are The Medicines For Poisoning?
What Are The Tips To Manage Poisoning?
Some natural remedies for various kinds of poisoning are:
- Drinking ginger tea can help to soothe the stomach in the case of poisoning.
- Consume probiotics such as yogurt, Greek yogurt or supplements to replenish the gut bacteria, which can help digestion and also restore your immune system.
- Garlic helps to detoxify the blood and is a good remedy in the case of poisoning. Include plenty of garlic in the diet of the person recovering from poisoning.
- In the case of a snake bite, it is essential to stay calm, as an increase in the heart rate causes the toxin to spread quickly. You can make use of any essential oil such as lavender oil, geranium oil or chamomile oil, etc. to relieve anxiety by sniffing out of the bottle or applying behind the ears.
- Cleaning the area of snake or insect bite with a cleanser containing tea tree oil can be beneficial, as tea tree oil has antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
- Echinacea has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and immune boosting properties and also helps in healing wounds and fighting infections. So, you can take echinacea supplements in the case of a snake or insect bite to hasten the healing.
- Coconut oil has antibacterial properties and can also help to heal wounds. Applying some coconut oil to the wound and wrapping it with a bandage can help to hasten the healing process.
- Adding turmeric to your diet or taking a supplement of turmeric can help to reduce the inflammation and pain in the case of a snake or insect bite.
- In the case of chemical poisoning, you can blend equal quantities of tinctures of liquorice, milk thistle, and dandelion leaf and have this thrice in a day helps to remove toxins from the blood, as these herbs have antiseptic properties.
- In the case of chemical poisoning due to pesticides, mix a cup of chlorine bleach to a bucket of warm water and soak yourself in the water. The heat brings the toxins to the surface of the skin, where it then eliminated from the body.
- In the case of poisoning due to carbon monoxide, add 5 drops of chlorine bleach to a glass of water and drink it slowly to counter the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Supplements such as vitamin E, garlic capsules, vitamin C, superoxide dismutase, protein supplements, selenium and liver extracts can help in the case of chemical poisoning.
- Add a few leaves of common fumitory or Earth Smoke plant to a liter of water and blend it well and have the mixture thrice a day. This will help to eliminate the toxins from the liver in case of poisoning.