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Activated Charcoal (cont.)

Emergency Home Care

If you or someone you know has swallowed or breathed a poison and you or they have signs or symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, pain, trouble breathing, seizure, confusion, or abnormal skin color, you must call either an ambulance, alert your local medical emergency system, or the National Poison Control Center in the United States (1-800-222-1222) for guidance (this number is routed to the poison control center that serves your area).

Place the telephone number (along with police, fire, and 911 or equivalent) near your home phones.

The best approach to poisoning is to identify the toxic substance and call your regional poison control center, or equivalent in your area, or go directly to the nearest Emergency Department.

  • Do not induce vomiting or give syrup of Ipecac.
    • Ipecac was once used to induce vomiting in poisoned patients for whom there was a chance to get the toxin out of the body. Several advisory bodies such as the American Association of Poison Control Centers and the American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended that Ipecac NOT be used and that it should not even be kept in the home. For more information on this subject go to: http://www.poison.org/prepared/ipecac.asp
  • A few poison centers recommend the use of activated charcoal in specific circumstances. Call your local poison control center for guidance before giving it to someone. In areas in which the poison center recommends activated charcoal, pharmacies will stock the product, and it can be purchased over-the-counter. In general, if the local poison center does not recommend its use at home, pharmacies will not stock it.
  • Milk products may decrease the ability of the charcoal to work. Do not attempt these types of home remedies. The best advice is to get the person to an Emergency Department.
  • If the person cannot be aroused, is vomiting, or has difficulty breathing, this is a 911 emergency. Bring the container of poison or medicine bottles, if known, to the Emergency Department.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/18/2013

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