Facts and definition of cyanide poisoning
- Cyanide is a rare, but potentially
deadly poison. It works by making the body unable to use life-sustaining oxygen.
Cyanide compounds that can be poisonous include hydrogen cyanide gas, and the
crystalline solids, potassium cyanide and sodium cyanide.
- Common sources of cyanide poisoning
smoke inhalation from fires,
- industries that use cyanide (photography,
chemical research, synthetic plastics, metal processing, and electroplating),
- plants (such as apricot pits and a type of potato called cassava),
treatment laetrile, and
- Signs and symptoms of cyanide poisoning
can be difficult to detect and include
- general weakness,
- bizarre behavior,
- excessive sleepiness,
- shortness of breath,
- abdominal pain, and
- The skin may be unusually pink or
cherry-red, breathing may be fast, and heartbeat may be slow or fast.
- An acute ingestion of cyanide will have
a dramatic, rapid onset, immediately affecting the heart and causing sudden
collapse, a seizure, or coma. Chronic poisoning from ingestion or the
environment has a more gradual onset.
- The setting may be more of a clue to
whether a person has experienced cyanide poisoning than the symptoms.
- 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,
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.
- Cyanide poisoning cannot be treated at
home. Immediate medical attention is always required.
- Cyanide poisoning can be treatable when
it is done promptly. Clothing that may contain traces of cyanide will be
removed, and a Cyanide Antidote Kit (CAK) or
hydroxocobalamin (Cyanokit) may be
may be used.
- Cyanide poisoning may be prevented in many cases with strict work safety
regulations, home fire precautions, and childproofing of the home.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017
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