Poisoning – An Overview

Poisoning is the process of ingestion, inhalation, absorption or injection of one or more substances that are harmful to an individual. The symptoms of poisoning range from mild to severe, and may even lead to death. Poisoning can be intentional (self-poisoning or suicide attempts) or accidental (ingestion of household chemicals).

Poisoning can be further classified into:

  • Drug poisoning – An unintentional ingestion, inhalation or injection of medicines, prescription drugs or illegal drugs.
  • Food poisoning – Consuming out-dated or contaminated food that leads to an infection in the body.
  • Chemical poisoning – Exposure to carbon monoxide, solvents, pesticides, etc. These types of poisoning usually occur in the workplace.
  • Heavy metal poisoning – Ingesting high levels of metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, aluminum, etc.

Symptoms of poisoning vary significantly based on the type of poison, the amount taken, and the individual’s age, health and how the poison affects the body. Mild symptoms of poisoning can include diarrhea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, abdominal pain, sweating, and confusion. Severe symptoms can include trouble breathing, loss of consciousness, seizures, and cardiac arrest.

Treatment for poisoning depends on the type of poison, amount taken, and the amount of time it has been since the poison was taken. Treatment may range from observation to antidotes, decontamination, and supportive therapies.

It is important to be aware of the potential dangers of poisons, properly store and label toxic substances, and take preventive measures to avoid accidental poisoning.