Health Library

Chemical Poisoning

The danger of chemical poisoning

Common sources of chemical poisoning include household products, agricultural products, plants, and industrial chemicals. Identifying the poison is critical to successful treatment of poisonings.

What are the symptoms of a chemical poisoning?

Different substances will cause different symptoms. The following are common symptoms of chemical poisoning:

  • Severe throat pain

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Burns on the lips or mouth

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

  • Unexplained nausea or vomiting

  • Stomach cramps without fever

  • Unusual drooling or odd odor on the breath

  • Convulsions or unconsciousness (in very serious cases only)

The first action when a person has ingested a toxic substance is to call Poison Help at 800-222-1222 to get connected to a local poison center.

New guidelines on ipecac

Syrup of ipecac is an emetic (an agent used to cause vomiting) made from the dried root of a plant grown in Brazil called ipecacuanha. Although ipecac was commonly used in the past, guidelines now state that you should not use it. 

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