“In situations of poisoning or ingestion of toxic substances, it is essential to act quickly and seek appropriate medical help. These incidents should be prevented by keeping hazardous substances out of children’s reach and stored in drawers that are secured. It is key to educate adults, caregivers, and other family members about the risks and preventive measures related to the ingestion of toxic substances,” recommends Dr. Erick Olivera, pediatrician, and emergency physician of our clinic, who recommends what to do in these cases that can put the health and life of our children at risk.
Steps to follow if your child has ingested a toxic substance:
- Stay calm and try to reassure your child, if he/she is conscious. This will allow you to act effectively and convey safety to your child.
- Try to identify what substance has been ingested. If you have the packaging of the substance, read it for information on ingredients and instructions in case of ingestion.
- In most cases, inducing vomiting is not recommended. Some substances may cause more harm by vomiting.
- Immediately call emergency or go to the nearest health center. If your child has severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, or other alarming symptoms.
- Contact your pediatrician. He or she will be able to give you guidance on what to do next.
- Provide information. Have information available about the substance ingested, the approximate amount, your child’s weight, and any symptoms your child is experiencing.
- If possible, bring the product or container of the ingested substance to the medical facility. This can provide doctors with valuable information about the toxic substance and its ingredients, making it easier to make decisions about the most appropriate treatment.
What symptoms may indicate that a child has ingested a toxic substance?
Symptoms may vary depending on the type of substance, the amount ingested, the age of the child, and other individual factors. Among them, we have:
- Nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain
- Child may show irritability, confusion, excessive drowsiness, or unusual restlessness
- Rapid breathing, shortness of breath, or persistent coughing
- Redness, swelling, rash, itching, or any change in the appearance of the skin
- If the child has difficulty swallowing or speaking, it could be a sign of irritation in the throat or esophagus.
- Uncontrollable, jerky movements may indicate a severe toxic reaction.
- A fast or slow heartbeat may be a sign of poisoning.
- Feeling dizzy, weak, or faint
- Changes in pupil size may be a sign of poisoning
- Difficulty seeing or hearing properly
Dr. Erick Olivera
Pediatrician and Emergency Physician at Clínica Ricardo Palma