John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
If you or someone you know has ingested, inhaled or been exposed to cyanide,
and you or they have signs or symptoms, such as weakness, dizziness, trouble
breathing, confusion, or seizure, then you must immediately call an ambulance,
the emergency response system in your area, or a poison control center. In the
United States, the National Poison Control Center contact number is 1-800-222-1222.
It can be very difficult to determine if someone has been exposed to cyanide. If you are in doubt, it is always best to contact a health care professional. If the victim is not in danger, contact your local poison center for instructions.
In the United States, you can find your local poison center at the
American Association of Poison Control Centers. The
U.S. National Poison Control Center phone number is 1-800-222-1222. 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.
Calling the National Poison Control Center, or the poison control center in
your area would be appropriate for example, if the potential victim accidentally swallowed a few apricot pits or breathed in a little too much smoke during a bonfire.
If the victim is unconscious,
collapses, has a seizure, is acting confused, or feels short of breath. This
is a medical emergency, and your local emergency response system, 911, or an
ambulance should be contacted immediately.
In most cases, calling 911 and waiting for the ambulance to arrive is the best thing to do.
If you live in a remote area with no emergency medical services or scattered ambulance service, then it may be best to place the victim in your vehicle and drive him or her to the nearest hospital's
Do not induce vomiting or give syrup of Ipecac.
Ipecac was formerly used to induce vomiting in poisoned patients where 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 household. For more information on this subject go to:
Do not give activated charcoal at home. Allow medical personnel to decide if this treatment is appropriate.
The poison control center will provide instructions in regard to what action
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.