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Poisoning in Kids – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

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Poisons are the harmful substances enter into the body. The toxins or poisons are entered when you breathe in, ingest, inject or absorb the poisonous substances. They can be absorbed through the skin or enter into the eyes. Poisoning is a medical emergency. If you suspect your child is affected by poisoning, you should call the Poison Control Center immediately. Poisoning occurs at home mostly. It can be unintentional and acute. Usually, it affects kids below 6 years.

Poisoning caretricks


Some of the common causes of poisoning in children are personal care products like lotions, creams, cosmetics and mouthwash, household cleaning chemicals and products, prescription and store-bought medications like cough, pain relievers, cough drops, and vitamins. Some kinds of poisoning in children may develop over time, because of chronic or repetitive exposure to small amounts of toxins. In young children, it is most common problem and it can lead to serious neurological damage which eventually develops over time when kids are exposed to lead.

Lead is very toxic metal which is likely to build up in your body and damage spinal cord, brain and nerves. Lead may be found in dust and contaminated soil, paint chips and paint, toys, and plumbing. It is very important to prevent poisoning in kids. The caregivers and parents have to keep all the poisonous substances out of children’s reach. They have to keep an eye on young kids all the time and avoid relying on child safety latches and child-resistant packaging, to avoid poisoning.

Risk Factors and Causes

Poisoning can take place when your child swallows a toxin and breathe it in through nose or mouth. It may enter into the eyes or skin or injected under the skin. Exposure to even a small amount of toxic substance can lead to poisoning. Here are some of the common substances which can cause poisoning –

  • Cosmetics and personal care products
  • Automobile fluids like antifreeze, gasoline, and windshield fluid
  • Alien objects from batteries or toys
  • Household cleaning products like dishwasher detergent and drain cleaners
  • Prescription or store-bought medications like analgesics such as a cough and cold drops, acetaminophen and vitamins
  • Plants
  • Paint thinners and paints
  • Pesticides like weed killers, insecticides etc.
  • Alcohol
  • Plants
  • Food products
  • Office and art supply
  • Herbal medicines


Instant diagnosis is very important to find out the actual treatment and to avoid complications. In order to diagnose poisoning, doctors perform laboratory tests and physical examination by taking the history. Caregivers and parents have to provide complete info on the toxins in children and their exposure to it. The doctor may also consider laboratory tests to test urine and blood levels of toxic substance and to figure out how well the body of the child is handling.

Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms and signs of poisoning rely on the type and amount of toxin, type of exposure (like skin absorption, ingestion, and inhalation), and the overall health and age of the person. Poisoning doesn’t cause common symptoms in some cases. Here are the common signs of poisoning –

  • Chemical or drug contains which remain spilled, open or out of place
  • Stains or spills on skin, clothing and flooring
  • Unusual odors in the air
  • Chronic or acute symptoms like drowsiness, behavioral changes, stomach pain, heavy drooling, vomiting and sweating

Poisoning in Kids

Symptoms are likely to vary from mild to severe. Usually, mild symptoms can be fixed instantly as they affect any one area of your body and don’t need any medical treatment. Some of the mild symptoms are restlessness, crankiness, dizziness, diarrhea, fatigue, drowsiness, loss of appetite, headache, upset stomach or nausea, eye irritation or minor skin, stiffness or soreness in joints, thirst, and passing cough.

Moderate symptoms may last long and are likely to be systemic. They often need treatment. They are usually not permanent or deadly.

  • Blurred vision
  • Drooling
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Excessive tearing
  • Problem in breathing
  • Fever
  • Yellowish or flushed skin
  • Muscle twitching and loss of muscle control
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Persistent cough
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Thirst
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Stomach cramps

Severe symptoms are deadly and can cause disability, permanent brain damage, and even death. Here are some major symptoms –

  • Convulsions
  • Cardiopulmonary arrest
  • High fever
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation which causes blood clotting or uncontrolled bleeding
  • Inability to breathe
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Low blood pressure and rapid heart rate
  • Seizures which don’t respond to treat
  • Extreme thirst


For poisoning, treatment relies on the type of exposure like inhalation or ingestion, toxic substance, and severity of the condition.

In severe cases, basic life support like CPR, treating serious burns, or treating shock are the initial treatments. When the person is not breathing, you need to administer CPR. Call Poison Control Center if the individual has been exposed to the toxic substance.

In cases of poisoning on children, the basic treatment is to increase elimination of toxins and reduce absorption of them and to give supportive care. Some of the common medical treatments are inducing vomiting under the supervision of healthcare expert, activated charcoal to bind ingested poisons and avoid absorption, and dialysis to remove toxins from their blood. There are some medications provided to cure some specific types of poisoning and these drugs are consumed through IV, administered orally or into muscle.


Poisoning on children due to the battery or small toy may call for surgery in order to remove the object. The object passes through the digestive tract of the child. Caustic or sharp items may be removed through surgery because they severely damage tissues.


In order to prevent poisoning, the caregivers and parents have to supervise their young kids all the time. They have to keep all the toxic substances away from their reach. They have to store all of the medications in their own containers and avoid taking them in front of young kids.