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development of symptoms after contact with a potentially toxic substance (see also poison). Such substances can enter the body by several routes: oral (medicines, household products, etc.); nasal (carbon monoxide, pesticides, etc.); through the eyes (household products and industrial chemicals, etc.); through the skin (caustics, pesticides, etc.); and parenteral (bites, stings, injected drugs, etc.). Children account for about half of all exposures to poisons, but most fatalities are in teenagers and adults who abuse drugs or commit suicide with drugs, chemicals, or gases.
Symptoms. Symptoms vary widely depending on the type and amount of substance involved, the route of exposure, and the age, weight, and medical condition of the victim. Some poisons are associated with characteristic clusters of symptoms called toxidromes. For example, opioid poisoning causes constricted pupils, depressed respirations, and coma. Poisoning by organophosphate insecticides causes tearing, salivation, loss of bowel and bladder control, and copious bronchial secretions. (See organophosphorus compound poisoning). However, many poisonings result in very general symptoms; for example, the headache, nausea, and lethargy of carbon monoxide poisoning often are misdiagnosed as a viral illness. For some poisonings, such as methanol and ethylene glycol, symptoms are delayed for many hours after exposure. Suspect a possible poisoning when someone has unexplained illness, seizures, cardiac arrhythmias, change in mental status, or loss of consciousness. Of course, also consider poison exposure in the face of obvious burns to the skin, evidence of medicine or foreign substance around the mouth or on the skin, or unexpectedly empty bottles or containers.
First Aid. If the victim is unconscious, having seizures, or not breathing, call 911 or the local emergency ambulance number immediately. Otherwise, the immediate goal is to prevent or decrease further contact with the poison. After immediate measures are taken, always call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center staff of physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, all with special training in toxicology, will provide both immediate and ongoing treatment advice.

Swallowed poison: dilute by having the victim drink a small amount of milk or water.

Inhaled poison: remove victim to fresh air if it is safe for the rescuer to enter.

Poison on the skin: rinse with running water for a minimum of 15--20 minutes.

Poison in the eyes: rinse with running water for a minimum of 15--20 minutes.
Treatment for poisoning. A careful history plus consultation with the poison center will allow a determination of how dangerous the situation may be. Next steps may include: decontamination of the gastrointestinal tract or further irrigation of eyes or skin; stabilization of the airway, breathing, and circulation; and treatment of seizures, if present. Supportive care, which may be as simple as observation or may be extremely complex, is sufficient for most poisonings. Few substances have specific antidotes, but the poison center will recommend when one is indicated and can help locate unusual antidotes.
Poison Prevention.

1. Use child-resistant packaging for medicines and household products.

2. Keep potential poisons locked out of sight and reach of children.

3. Store medicines and household products in their original, labeled containers.

4. Call medicines by their proper names.

5. Take medicines where children cannot watch, as children learn by imitation.

6. Read the label before giving or taking any medicine.

7. Read the label and follow precautions when using any household products.

8. Wear personal protective equipment as indicated when working with industrial and household chemicals.

9. Put the poison center number on the phone: 1-800-222-1222.

10. Call the poison center immediately for any possible poison exposure.
risk for poisoning a nursing diagnosis accepted by the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association, defined as an accentuated risk of accidental exposure to or ingestion of drugs or dangerous products in doses sufficient to cause poisoning.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


(ven'ĕ-nā'shŭn, vē-nĕ-),
Poisoning, as from a sting or bite.
[L. veneno, pp. -atus, to poison, fr. venenum, poison]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


1. Introduction of a venom into animal tissue.
2. The poisoned condition produced by a venom.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Poisoning, as from a sting or bite.
[L. veneno, pp. -atus, to poison, fr. venenum, poison]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012