Cyanide Poisoning (cont.)
Cyanide Poisoning Treatment
Depending on how sick the patient is, treatment will vary.
- If the patient is completely unconscious, all attempts will be made to save the person's life. A variety of invasive measures may need to be
performed on the patient in order to closely monitor and evaluate the person.
- If the patient's condition is not grave, he or she will need a thorough investigation. Typically,
the patient's clothes will be removed because leftover cyanide
on clothing can continue to poison both the patient and those providing care.
- The patient may also have his or her stomach pumped if a recent ingestion of cyanide-containing substances is suspected. This is done by placing a tube down the mouth and into the stomach, followed by a thorough washing out of the stomach.
- A Cyanide Antidote Kit (CAK) or Hydroxocobalamin (Cyanokit) may be may be used if a strong suspicion for cyanide poisoning exists. Although not 100% successful, these antidotes can often prevent the cyanide from further poisoning the victim.
- If the person has carbon monoxide poisoning as well, hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be used if available. This requires placing the person in a special chamber that will give an extremely high amount of oxygen. Controversy still exists as to hyperbaric oxygen's definite role in the treatment of
carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Usually the local poison control center or poison specialist (toxicologist) will be notified about the victim. Their assistance will help to determine the
- If it is determined that the risk of actual cyanide ingestion is very low, the
patient may be monitored for a few hours. If the patient appears well enough, he
or she may be sent home with careful instructions to return immediately if any of the
previous signs or symptoms develop.
- If a patient has had a significant cyanide exposure, has preexisting illnesses, or
has an uncertain diagnosis and is too ill to go home, they will be admitted to the hospital for further treatment and observation.
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