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Accidental Poisoning

Learn the Signs of a Medical Emergency

According to the National Capital Poison Center, Americans report approximately one accidental poisoning to poison control centers every 15 seconds. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the main culprit for non-drug-related poisoning deaths. However, people also have to watch out for household chemicals, work exposures, alcohol or drug poisoning, and foodborne illnesses.

If you’re the victim of accidental poisoning, you’re likely frightened. Fortunately, you can get treatment at a local emergency room. Your treatment will depend on the type of poisoning but might consist of activated charcoal and an antidote to reverse the effects.

Go to the ER With Chronic or Acute Poisoning

If you’re exposed to a small amount of a chemical over a long period of time, you can suffer from chronic poisoning. For instance, many people suffer from chronic heavy metal poisoning, meaning they take in small amounts of the toxin that builds up over time. Chronic exposure eventually causes symptoms that might include headaches, confusion, seizures, abdominal pain, fever, and more. If you have any of these symptoms, visit the emergency room for treatment.

If you’re exposed to a large amount of a toxin all at once, you can suffer from acute poisoning. While this is most common in children after exposure to household chemicals, adults can also suffer from acute exposure..

Go to the emergency if you or your child:

  • Have burns on the mouth and lips
  • Expels a chemical smell when exhaling
  • Experiences breathing issues
  • Are vomiting
  • Are tired, confused, or experiencing cognitive issues

Should I Go to the ER for Food Poisoning?

You can develop food poisoning after consuming contaminated food. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and a fever. These food poisoning symptoms are generally moderate to mild and go away on their own.

However, severe symptoms can cause kidney failure, brain damage, and other serious health issues. Visit the emergency room immediately if any of the following are true:

  • You have blood in your stool.
  • You’re dehydrated.
  • You’ve experienced diarrhea for four days.
  • Your fever is higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is Sun Poisoning an Emergency?

If you experience a severe sunburn, you can develop sun poisoning. Common symptoms of sun poisoning include peeling, blistering, redness, nausea, headaches, and fainting. In addition, you can experience severe pain.

Without treatment, you can become severely dehydrated and will be at risk for skin damage. Thus, head to the emergency room if you have this condition.

Is Alcohol Poisoning an Emergency?

If you drink too much alcohol, your brain won’t be able to control essential functions, such as your heart rate and breathing. With an average of six deaths a day from alcohol poisoning, this is an emergency situation.

You should call 911 if you notice someone experiencing symptoms of alcohol poisoning. These symptoms include:

  • Cold, clammy, and/or bluish-colored skin
  • Confusion and lack of coordination
  • Vomiting and choking
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heartbeat

Err on the side of caution when dealing with accidental poisoning. Reach out to a poison control center, call 911, or visit the emergency room.