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Swallowed substance treatments

Substances that may be swallowed include liquids, powders and some solid items, such as medicines or drugs.

Looking after yourself

If you have swallowed something from a packet or container, find a label of the substance or product. Follow the instructions for what to do if it is swallowed. If you have been advised to go to the emergency department, you should take the original bottle and packaging with you so the substance can be identified.

If you have swallowed a substance that may be dangerous, or you are not sure what you have swallowed, call the Poisons Information Line 24 hours a day from anywhere in Australia on 13 11 26.

In the meantime:

  • have a small sip of water
  • then do not eat or drink anything unless you have been advised to do so on the package instructions
  • do not to try to make yourself vomit as this could cause choking or block your airway.

Swallowing substances deliberately

Some people may swallow substances deliberately to harm or injure themselves. If you have done this, you should know you are not alone and help is available. Please discuss this with a healthcare professional.

Find out more about self harm.

Suspicion of deliberate harm

If there is any suspicion that the poisoning was not the result of an accident and that it was deliberately inflicted, you should seek help from a healthcare professional as soon as possible. This could be a nurse or doctor at an emergency department, doctor’s surgery, health visitor or school nurse.

You can also search for local services and agencies that can offer confidential advice in the National Health Services Directory.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about a swallowed substance, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

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13 11 26. Take the bottle or whatever you think the poison was in when you go to the phone so that you will be able to tell the person at the Poison Information Centre what has been swallowed. They will know if it is dangerous and can tell you what to do.

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Drug scheduling is used to regulate drugs and poisons in Australia. It classifies how and where medicines, including controlled substances, can be sold.

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Children under three years put everything in their mouths, including household poisons, chemicals and medicines. Use this checklist to keep your child safe.

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The new edition of the SUSMP (No. 17) has been registered on the Federal Register of Legislation (FRL) as Poisons Standard June 2017

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Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Poisoning

Dangerous things are swallowed every day by children, usually when they are at home. Most of the children who swallow poisonous things are under the age of three, when they are too young to know what is safe and what is dangerous.

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