Most parents of infants and toddlers make an effort to keep their children out of harm’s way and potential hazard’s out of their children’s reach, but what happens when your child eats some mysterious berries out in the yard or you accidentally give them the wrong cough syrup? Who do you call if they break out in a strange rash 3 days after taking a new prescription and the doctor’s office is closed? Calling your child’s doctor or a consulting nurse line is certainly appropriate in each of these cases, but did you know that Poison Centers are also equipped to answer your questions and give you advice? In fact, some doctors’ answering services and consulting nurse lines will transfer callers to poison control, depending on the question and circumstance. Poison Centers are usually staffed by pharmacists and nurses. Occassionally other healthcare professionals and experts, such as MDs and toxicologists are available for consult. They can provide information on topics ranging from what to do if you suspect your child has ingested something toxic to answering general questions about potential drug side effects or interactions. In the United States, the toll free number, 1-800-222-1222 will get you through to the nearest poison center.
Poisons can be ingested through the mouth, absorbed through the skin, in the eyes, and by breathing in.
Signs and symptoms of potential poisoning include: an open container nearby, pills, berries, etc. in the mouth, strange odor on breath, burns around mouth, upset stomach/nausea/vomiting, dizziness or unconsciousness.
Some of the reasons people call poison centers (besides obvious poisonings) include: food poisoning, lead exposure, rabies, animal bites, spider and tick bites, snake bites, poisoning prevention, drug interactions, and carbon monoxide exposure.
I recommend adding the number for Poison Control to the list of emergency numbers posted on your fridge or near a phone for easy access. For more information about the Washington Poison Center, please visit their website: http://www.wapc.org
Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222