Diseases & Conditions : Non-Traumatic Emergencies
Chemical Poisoning and Syrup of Ipecac
The danger of chemical poisoning:
Common sources of chemical poisoning include household products, agricultural products, plants, and industrial chemicals. Identifying the poison is critical to successful treatment of these types of poisonings.
What are the symptoms of a chemical poisoning?
The following are common symptoms of chemical poisoning. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Severe throat pain
Difficulty in breathing
Burns on the lips or mouth
Sudden behavior changes, such as unusual sleepiness, irritability, or jumpiness
Unexplained nausea or vomiting
Stomach cramps without fever
Unusual drooling or odd odor on the breath
Unexplained stains on the clothing
Convulsions or unconsciousness (in very serious cases only)
The first action when a person has ingested a toxic substance is to consult with the local poison control center at the universal telephone number in the United States--800-222-1222.
What is syrup of ipecac?
Syrup of ipecac is an emetic (an agent used to cause vomiting) made from the dried root of a plant called ipecacuanha, which is grown in Brazil.
New guidelines issued regarding ipecac:
Ipecac was once recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as an important aspect of first aid for poisoning, as long as it was used only on the advice of a physician or poison control center.
Now, the AAP has issued new guidelines for professionals at its 2003 annual meeting on the use of ipecac. The organization has asked its members to emphasize to parents to NOT use ipecac for poison control. The guidelines were published in the medical journal Pediatrics, as a result of growing evidence that ipecac use is not effective and can even interfere with other remedies for poison ingestion.
The AAP says the primary goal should be to prevent poisoning in the first place. The AAP recommends the following to parents:
Keep potential poisons out of sight and out of reach.
Always reengage child-resistant closures in the locked mode immediately after using a pharmaceutical or consumer product.
Never transfer a substance from its original to an alternate container.
Safely dispose of all unused and no longer needed medications.
Do not refer to medications as candy.
Post the poison control center number near the telephone. The universal telephone number in the United States is 800-222-1222. Calls are routed to the local poison control center.
For more information on ipecac guidelines, see the Online Resources section for a link to the AAP.