Poisoning is when a person is exposed to a substance that can damage their health or put their life in danger. Most cases of poisoning happen at home.
Children under 5 years of age have the highest risk of accidental poisoning, so make sure poisonous substances including medicines and household cleaning products are locked away out of the sight and reach of your children.
What causes poisoning?
- inhaling a harmful substance
- injecting a harmful substance
- splashing a harmful substance onto skin or into eyes or mouth
- being bitten or stung by an insect, animal, snake or spider
The symptoms of poisoning will depend on the type of poison, the amount taken, the age and size of the person and their general health. But in general, things to look out for include:
- feeling sick
- stomach pain
- drowsiness, dizziness or weakness
- high temperature (above 38°C)
- chills or shivering
- loss of appetite
- difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- producing more saliva than normal
- skin rash
- burns around the nose or mouth
- double or blurred vision
- seizures (fits)
- coma (in severe cases)
When to seek medical help
If you suspect that someone has taken an overdose or has been poisoned, do not try to treat them yourself. Get medical help immediately.
You can call the Poisons Information Line 24 hours a day from anywhere in Australia on 13 11 26.
If the person is showing signs of being seriously ill, such as vomiting, loss of consciousness, drowsiness or seizures (fits), call triple zero (000) for an ambulance, or take the person to the closest emergency department.
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Last reviewed: February 2018