If you or someone you know has swallowed or breathed in a poison, and you or they have serious signs or symptoms (nausea, vomiting, pain, trouble breathing, seizure, confusion, or abnormal skin color), you must either call an ambulance for transport to a hospital emergency department or call a poison control center for guidance. The National Poison Control Center phone number in the U.S. is 1-800-222-1222.
If the person has no symptoms but has taken a potentially dangerous poison, you should also call a poison control center or go to the nearest emergency department for an evaluation.
Poison is anything that kills or injures through its chemical actions. Most poisons are swallowed (ingested). The word poison comes from the Latin word - potare - meaning to drink. But poisons can also enter the body in other ways:
Poisons include highly toxic chemicals not meant for human ingestion or contact, such as cyanide, paint thinners, or household cleaning products.
Many poisons, however, are substances meant for humans to eat, including foods and medicines.
Drugs that are helpful in therapeutic doses may be deadly when taken in excess.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/27/2015
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