LivingHow to know if you have been poisoned

How to know if you have been poisoned

A poison or toxin is any substance dangerous to the body and capable of causing death if a certain dose is exceeded. Poisons can be ingested, breathed in, or absorbed through the skin, let alone the mucous membranes. In reality, even water, administered in lethal doses , is a poison.

When talking about poisons, the term lethal dose 50 (LD50 or LD50, the latter in English) is usually used. The lethal dose 50 of a substance is defined as the amount of the same that it is necessary to ingest, inhale, receive in an injection or absorb through the skin such that who receives it has a 50% chance of dying as a result of that exposure, intake, etc. The lethal dose of a poison would be the amount that almost completely ensures death.

The LD50 values of the substances vary depending on the form of exposure or assimilation and the animal species in question. In humans, children and the elderly are known to have lower LD50 values than healthy adults for many substances.

Knowing if you have been poisoned is very difficult due to the huge amount of poisons that exist. In addition, some are cumulative and take months or years to put you in serious danger, while others, such as hydrocyanic acid gas, act in a few seconds .

Poisonings caused by low doses or can be treated in time can not leave sequel. Therefore, we are going to review the most common accidental poisonings and their symptoms. And please, do not eat mushrooms if they have not been reviewed by an expert, because the world of poisons that can be found in some species of mushrooms would allow many books to be written.


Hygiene products

Children and people with cognitive impairment can accidentally ingest household hygiene products, in which case the first symptoms will be gastrointestinal and immediate , as well as the response to be given.


Another common poisoning is that caused by drugs, accidentally or on purpose. If you have any suspicions, you should call the helpline of the Toxicology Information Service in your country or go urgently to a hospital.

Sometimes we forget that we have taken our medication and we go back to taking it. In those cases, if you exceed the maximum recommended dose, call the site we are talking about and they will tell you if you should go to the hospital to have a gastric lavage done or if it is not of great importance.

Symptoms of medication overdose are described in the package insert, which is not the case with over-the-counter herbal tablets, which can have a really low LD50 as well as interact negatively with other substances.

Mercury and lead

For the rest, we must be careful with mercury poisoning and lead poisoning, both slow unless they try to kill you. Mercury poisoning usually produces tumors , while lead causes the disease known as lead poisoning , which for some is the cause of the death of the famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide poisoning manifests as drowsiness and confusion , sometimes dizziness , and can cause death when the person loses consciousness or falls asleep and remains exposed. If the exposure has been mild, it may be enough to inhale oxygen-enriched air for a while, although in serious cases the treatments have to be more forceful.

Hepatotoxic poisons

Hepatotoxic poisons cause liver failure after a few days of ingestion. It will not go unnoticed, but perhaps the first symptom is jaundice , that is, your skin and sclera turn yellowish.

Spoiled food

Eating food that is spoiled or carrying toxins usually manifests itself with gastrointestinal problems, which can lead to high fever and, in many cases, hives or hives. All these symptoms appear abruptly, so if it happens to you, go to the emergency department without delay. If later it was something else, at least you stay calm, right?

There are countless poisons, because everything is a question of dose. Some poisons make you sick or kill you painfully, while others, the most dangerous, are not perceived until it is too late.

In the case of the most common poisons to which an adult can be unintentionally exposed, with the exception of carbon monoxide, almost all produce symptoms of illness that will make you see an emergency doctor. Each poison has its own characteristic symptoms .

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