MANAGEMENT: Here we shall deal with the steps to be taken if you suspect that your child
has been handling
some poisonous substances or has consumed them:
Step 1: Remove
the poisonous substance from his system. If he has some of it in his mouth, remove it with your
fingers. If the child can understand, ask him to spit it out.
Preserve this stuff along with the poisonous substance that is in
his hand or is lying near him. Your doctor will need to
check its contents.
If the child has spilled some poisonous substance on his body, remove the clothes and pour
water (not hot) on his
skin as you would in managing a case of burns.
If the poison has gone into his eye, wash it with water. Keep washing the eye for about 15
Step 2: After
having taken these first steps, ring your doctor and ask him if you should make the child vomit.
His advice is needed because vomiting is not advisable if
the child has swallowed acids used for cleaning the toilet sink or
alkalis used for washing dishes. In such cases, your doctor will probably advise giving milk or water.
If your doctor advises you to make the child vomit, give him a drink of salt water. The best
way to make the
child vomit is to give him syrup of ipecac. Unfortunately, it
is not easily available at a chemist. If you can procure a
bottle of it, keep it handy at home. If your doctor is not available
and you have ruled out the ingestion of acids or alkalis, give 3 teaspoons of
this medicine followed by a glass of
water. If he does not vomit after 20 minutes, give one more dose. As soon as the child vomits, collect the vomit in a
vessel and preserve it to be handed over to your doctor for inspection and testing.
Step 3: After
following the first two steps, take the child to the nearest hospital for further
management. You must
take with you the remaining poisonous substance and the
amount removed with your fingers or the stuff vomited by the
child. The doctor would also like to know the possible amount
of poison taken by the child and the likely time when he
might have ingested it.
After taking a quick history and checking your child,
the doctor may decide to send you home, or do a stomach wash
to remove the remaining poison from his stomach, or he may decide to admit the child in the hospital.
Step 4: If
you are sent home with your child, observe him closely for the next 12 hours for
any abnormal behaviour, convulsions, breathing difficulty, persistent vomiting
or failure to pass urine. If in doubt, consult your doctor
or take your child to the hospital again.
PREVENTION: Prevention of
poisoning is discussed in the chapter on PREVENTION OF
11 February, 2013