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Swallowed substance treatments

2 min read

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

Looking after yourself

If you (or a child in your care) 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, immediately take the container and the child to the phone and call the Poisons Information Line 24 hours a day from anywhere in Australia on 13 11 26.

In the meantime:

  • 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: November 2017

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