A poison is any substance that is harmful to your body. There are many different types of poison. Many poisonous substances are products you have around the house. Even medicines that aren't taken as directed can be harmful.
Ways you can be exposed to poison include breathing it in, swallowing it or absorbing it through your skin.
Substances that could poison you include the following:
The effects of poisoning depend on what substance you are exposed to, and the type and amount of exposure. Your age, your weight and how healthy you are can also affect your symptoms. Poisoning can cause short-term effects, like a skin rash or vomiting. In serious cases, it can cause brain damage, coma or death.
The following are some possible symptoms of poisoning:
The best way to guard against poisoning is to avoid exposure to harmful substances. The following are some tips:
Make sure the number for the poison control center (1-800-222-1222) is on or near every phone in your home. In the case of poisoning or suspected poisoning, call the local center right away and make sure you know what the immediate proper care should be. Different types of poison require different treatments.
NOTE: If the person swallowed a poisonous substance, do not try to induce vomiting, such as with syrup of ipecac. That approach to swallowed poisons is no longer recommended. Research shows that syrup of ipecac doesn’t improve the outcome of treatment for poisoning. And, because it causes vomiting, it can even get in the way of treatments that could be helpful.
Evaluation and Management of Common Childhood Poisonings by Tamara McGregor, M.D., Mehjabin Parkar, M.D., and Shoba Rao, M.D. (American Family Physician March 01, 2009, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20090301/397.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff