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Chemical poisoning

Chemical poisoning: Introduction

Chemical poisoning is a condition in which the body is exposed to a potentially harmful chemical in an amount that causes symptoms, disease and/or damage to cells, organs and/or body systems. Chemical poisoning can be intentional or unintentional. Chemical poisoning is common and the second leading cause of injury and death in the U.S., according to the National Capitol poison Center.

Chemicals that can cause chemical poisoning include toxins and toxicants. Chemicals that are produced by living organisms are called toxins. There are a wide variety of toxins, including biotoxins, which cause biotoxin poisoning. Examples of biotoxins include snake venom, honey bee venom, and cyanotoxin, which is produced by blue-green algae.

Toxicants are chemicals are synthetic or are natural substances that are not produced by a living organism. There are a wide variety of toxicants, such as pesticides, chlorine, ammonia, pepper spray, and acetone.

Toxins and toxicants that cause chemical poisoning come in different forms, including gas, liquids, or solids, and are taken into the body in different ways. These include inhaling and ingesting. Toxins and toxicants affect the body in different ways. Symptoms and complications vary widely depending on the specific chemical, its form, and the amount of exposure to the chemical. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of chemical poisoning.

Making a diagnosis of chemical poisoning begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. Diagnostic tests can vary depending on the type of chemical poisoning that is suspected. Tests can help to pinpoint a specific toxin or toxicant and/or identify and monitor damage that the chemical poisoning has done to the body.

Tests may include blood tests, which can indicate some types of damage done to the body, such as damage to blood cells. Blood tests may also be able to help pinpoint some chemical poisons, such as certain types of drugs taken in a drug overdose.

An EKG may be performed to test for cardiac arrhythmias or damage the chemical poisoning has done to the heart. Arterial blood gasses can measure how a chemical poisoning is affecting the body's oxygen level and acid-base balance. Imaging tests, such as X-ray, CT, and MRI, may also be done.

Test may also be performed in order to rule out or confirm other diseases that may appear similar to chemical poisoning, such as stroke or diabetes.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers is often contacted to assist with the diagnosis and treatment of chemical poisoning. However, it is possible that a diagnosis of chemical poisoning can be missed or delayed. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of chemical poisoning.

Treatment of chemical poisoning varies widely, depending on the toxin or toxicant involved, the length of exposure, the severity of symptoms, the person's age and medical history, and other factors. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of chemical poisoning. ...more »

Chemical poisoning: Morbid condition caused by chemical. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Chemical poisoning is available below.

Chemical poisoning: Symptoms

The types of symptoms and severity of complications of chemical poisoning differ greatly, depending on the type of chemical, the length of exposure, the person's age and medical history, and other factors.

Some chemicals, such as chlorine and phosgene, affect the respiratory system. Exposure can result in symptoms, such as wheezing and shortness of ...more symptoms »

Chemical poisoning: Treatments

The first step in treating chemical poisoning is preventing its occurrence. Most cases of chemical poisoning are due to such incidents as accidental ingestion of household chemicals by small children. These are highly preventable by taking safety steps, such as childproofing the home and keeping chemicals and medications out of the reach of small children. It is also important to follow all ...more treatments »

Chemical poisoning: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of chemical poisoning may be delayed because some symptoms can be vague and may initially be attributed to another less serious condition. For example, headache is a typical symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning but may be overlooked because it is easy to assume it to be due to other factors, such as stress.

In addition, some symptoms of ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Chemical poisoning

  • Symptoms can vary considerably depending on the chemical involved.
  • Unusual odor on breath
  • Unusual odor on clothes or body
  • Unusual stains on clothes or body
  • Abdominal pain
  • more symptoms...»

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Chemical poisoning?

Chemical poisoning: Related Patient Stories

Chemical poisoning: Deaths

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Alternative Treatments for Chemical poisoning

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Chemical poisoning may include:

  • Drink 4 ounces milk or water
  • Check with poison control center before forceful vomiting
  • more treatments »

Causes of Chemical poisoning

Read more about causes of Chemical poisoning.

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Disease Topics Related To Chemical poisoning

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Chemical poisoning: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Evidence Based Medicine Research for Chemical poisoning

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Research about Chemical poisoning

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Chemical poisoning: Broader Related Topics

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