Font Size
A
A
A
2
...

Cyanide Poisoning (cont.)

Cyanide Poisoning Symptoms

Cyanide poisoning can be difficult to detect. The effects of cyanide ingestion are very similar to the effects of suffocation; because cyanide stops the cells of the body from being able to use oxygen, which all cells need to survive. The symptoms of cyanide poisoning are similar to those experienced when hiking or climbing at high altitudes.

  • General weakness, confusion, bizarre behavior, excessive sleepiness, coma, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, and seizures can all present with cyanide poisoning.
  • Typically, an acute ingestion will have a dramatic, rapid onset, immediately affecting the heart and causing sudden collapse. It can also immediately affect the brain and cause a seizure or coma.
  • Chronic poisoning (over a long period of time) from ingestion or environmental poisoning will have a more gradual onset.
  • The skin of a cyanide-poisoned person can sometimes be unusually pink or cherry-red because oxygen will stay in the blood and not get into the cells. The person may also breathe very fast and have either a very fast or very slow heartbeat. Sometimes the person's breath can smell like bitter almonds, though this can be difficult to detect.
  • Perhaps most important is the setting, rather than the signs or symptoms.
    • A person who works in a laboratory or plastics factory has a higher risk of cyanide poisoning.
    • Home, RV, boat, or building fires always include the additional concern of cyanide exposure.
    • If you know someone has been depressed or has substance abuse problems and you find him or her with any of the signs or symptoms of cyanide poisoning, then a suicide attempt is possible.

Must Read Articles Related to Cyanide Poisoning

Coma
Coma Coma is a state of unconsciousness in which the patient does not consiously respond to the environment and stimuli. Causes of coma include head trauma, bleeding...learn more >>
Seizures Emergencies
Seizures Emergencies Seizures refer to uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. Symptoms of seizures range from mild to severe and can lead to death. A number of factors can l...learn more >>
Smoke Inhalation
Smoke Inhalation The number one cause of death related to fires is smoke inhalation. An estimated 50-80% of fire deaths are the result of smoke inhalation injuries rather than b...learn more >>

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Cyanide Poisoning:

Cyanide Poisoning - Causes

What was the cause of your or a friends case of cyanide poisoning?

Cyanide Poisoning - Symptoms

What were the symptoms of cyanide poisoning you or someone you know?

Cyanide Poisoning - Treatment

How was your case of cyanide poisoning treated?





Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Toxicity, Cyanide »

Cyanide, one of the most rapidly acting lethal poisons known to humankind, was a main constituent of Earth's primordial atmosphere and probably played an important role in the development of life on Earth.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary