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Top 10 Must Know Facts on Poisoning

Introduction to Poisoning

Poisoning is an avoidable public health problem that can happen to anyone, at any time or any place. If not addressed at the right time it can cause grievous harm and even death. Poisoning is much more widespread than what most people think.

Poisons are substances which cause harmful effects in an organism depending on the amount consumed. These effects can range in severity from short-term illnesses to brain damage, coma and death. There are different routes by which a person can be exposed to poisons - ingestion through the mouth, inhalation through the nose or mouth, through the eyes (ocular), through the skin (dermal) or through stings or bites (parenteral).

Poisons can be-
  • Overdose of prescription, over-the-counter medicines and illegal drugs

  • Carbon monoxide from gas appliances

  • Household products, such as laundry powder or furniture polish

  • Pesticides

  • Indoor or outdoor plants

  • Metals such as lead , arsenic and mercury

To prevent poisoning household products must be stored exactly as their labels say and dangerous products must be placed where children cannot get to them. Treatment for poisoning depends on the type of poison.

The National Poisons Information Centre (NPIC) in the Department of Pharmacology of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) provides round-the-clock telephonic consultation on poison management.

The number to call is toll-free - 1800 116 117 and can be accessed 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 a year.
Other numbers that can be called are: Tel No.- 26589391 , 26593677

Read Some of the Facts on Poisoning

  1. In India, poisoning accounts for about 30% of suicides. Insecticides, rodenticides, snakebites, alcohols, sedative hypnotics, opioids, and pain medication are some of most common causes of poisoning.

  2. In 2015, the U.S Poison control center, provided telephonic help for nearly 2.2 million poison exposure cases.

  3. At least 1 poison exposure case is reported every 15 seconds.

  4. In the same year, nearly 78.4% unintentional, 17.6% intentional and 2.4% adverse poisoning cases were reported.

  5. 47% nearly half of the poison exposure were reported by children under the age of 6, followed by adults (34%) and then teens at about 8%.

  6. The highest incidence rate of about 8,243 and 7903 exposures/100,000 children were reported by 1 and 2 year old children.

  7. Poisoning, in children, can be prevented to a large extent by keeping drugs and harmful substances out of their reach.

  8. Adults aged 50 years or older reported a fewer than 300 exposures/100 population.

  9. In 2012 there were about 41,502 reported drug poisoning deaths and according to the US poison control center, 91% of unintentional poisoning were because of drug overdose - especially from opioid pain medication.

  10. Nearly 430 people in US die annually due to unintentional, non fire related carbon mono-oxide poisoning, this type poisoning is highest among men at the age of 65 and older.

  1. Poison Control - National Capital Poison Center (http://www.poison.org/poison-statistics-national)

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prema, India

Vitamin drug overdose another form of poisoning quite prevalent among patients on polypharmacy. I often see patients taking 3 to 4 multivitamin tablets with fancy trade names. Seldom doctors review their patients drugs.

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