Poisonining (in children)

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Poisoning is when a person is exposed to a substance that can damage their health or endanger their life. In 2013-14, almost 150,000 people were admitted to hospital with poisoning in England. Most cases of poisoning happen at home and children under five have the highest risk of accidental poisoning.

If you suspect that a child has swallowed any sort of poison – that includes bleach, paint stripper and washing-up liquid – call 999 immediately. likely symptoms include:

  • Vomiting (sometimes bloodstained)
  • Burning pain
  • Drifting into unconsciousness
  • Confusion

If they’re showing signs of being seriously ill, such as vomiting, loss of consciousness, drowsiness or seizures (fits), call 999 to request an ambulance or take the person to your local A&E department. It would be a good idea to ask the child what they drank or ate, and if possible bring the container with you in the ambulance so doctors know what they are dealing with. While waiting with the child DO NOT make them sick, keep them warm and reassure them until help arrives.

Types of poisons:

Poisons can be swallowed, absorbed through the skin, inhaled, splashed into the eyes, or injected.

  • household products, such as bleach
  • cosmetic items, such as nail polish
  • some types of plants and fungi
  • certain types of household chemicals and pesticides
  • poorly prepared or cooked food, and food that’s gone mouldy or been contaminated with bacteria from raw meat (food poisoning)
  • alcohol, if an excessive amount is consumed over a short period of time (alcohol poisoning)

Another very common type of poisoning can be through prescriptions drugs such as antidepressants and paracetamol, this can often be accidental but can be life threatening if not treated quickly and effectively.


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