Common Poisons And Treatments Emergency Medical

A substance can be considered a poison if it is capable of injuring the body. Poison exposure is fairly common — in 2007, more than 2.5 million people were exposed to poisons, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC).

Each day, we encounter poisons in our daily lives, from the household cleaners in our homes to the medicines we are prescribed to the gas we use to fill our cars. Because poisonous substances are all around us, and accidental exposure to a toxic substance can easily occur, it’s important to know what to do if you experience a medical emergency involving poison.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Treatment

If a poisoning is severe, it’s important to get medical treatment immediately. This may require a trip to the emergency room. Some of the most common forms of emergency medical treatment for poisoning are:

  • Elimination: Elimination helps to get the poison out of the body as quickly as possible. In order to do this, an emergency room doctor may stick a tube into the patient’s windpipe so the person who has been poisoned doesn’t suffocate. When the poison is no longer in the stomach, other treatments may be used, such as activated charcoal, which can absorb the poison, or whole bowel irrigation.
  • Antidotes: Antidotes work in two ways: they can either prevent the poison from working or reverse the effects of the poison. A common antidote is called N-acetylcysteine, which can help increase the body’s detoxification abilities.
  • Support treatments: Support treatments can be used as emergency medical treatments for poisoning, such as sedatives, a ventilator to help with breathing and medication to prevent seizures.

If you or someone you know is experiencing severe poisoning symptoms, such as trouble breathing, turning blue, vomiting or seizures, call 911.

Poison Control

If poisoning symptoms are severe, or the substance a person has ingested is known to be very toxic, it’s best to seek emergency medical treatment right away. In other situations, you may want to call a poison control center. The staff at these centers can help you determine the best course of action in the event of a suspected poisoning.

Poison control centers are staffed by nurses, pharmacists and doctors who are trained to help in a medical emergency involving poison. In many cases, calling a poison control center can help you avoid a trip to the emergency room. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, over 90 percent of people who call a poison control center don’t have to go to the emergency room.

Contacting Poison Control

You can always call 1-800-222-1222 to reach a poison control center in your area. Poison control centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Speak with your doctor if you want more information about poison control, what to do in a medical emergency, and how to receive emergency medical treatment. She can give you tips on how to avoid cases of poisoning and advice on how to keep your family safe.


American Association of Poison Control Centers. (n.d.). Poison exposure and help from poison centers. Retrieved May 2, 2010, from

Emedicine Health. (n.d.). Poisoning. Retrieved May 2, 2010, from

National Capital Poison Center. (n.d.). Poison info. Retrieved May 2, 2010, from