Panic reactions often lead to fatal wrong decisions in case of poisoning
Young children are generally at increased risk of poisoning because they put a lot of things in their mouths and cannot distinguish between food and toxins. In an emergency, it is important to stay calm and not to panic, emphasizes Dr. Maren Hermanns-Clausen, head of the poisoning information center at the University Medical Center Freiburg. The problem can be exacerbated by acting too quickly, such as inducing vomiting in the child.
The Freiburg University Hospital exemplifies the case of a little girl who had swallowed tempting looking red berries. The mother immediately tried to induce nausea with her finger. However, this injured the child's throat, causing bleeding and, moreover, "the vagus nerve behind the palate wall was irritated by this mechanical stimulation to such an extent that the child briefly passed out," the university hospital said. "The case shows that hasty or wrong action can be more dangerous than the actual poisoning," emphasizes Dr. Maren Hermanns-Clausen.
25,000 inquiries per year at the poisoning information center
The berries the girl had swallowed were completely harmless, according to the doctor, and after a short treatment in the hospital she was able to go home. The mother's intervention had caused the greatest damage, even if she acted out of pure concern for her child. "The most important thing in poisoning, like in all emergencies, is to keep calm," warns Dr. Hermanns-Clausen. A call to the poisoning information center can help assess the risk, but in an emergency it is advisable to dial the emergency number directly. According to a report from the university hospital, over 25,000 telephone poisoning inquiries were received at the Freiburg Poisoning Information Center alone.
Tips for dealing with poisoning
When children swallow a toxic substance or plants, parents often panic and react incorrectly, according to Dr. Maren Hermanns-Clausen. The expert explains which points have to be considered. For example, after swallowing a toxic substance, a maximum of one glass of non-carbonated water, diluted juice or tea should be drunk, emphasizes Dr. The idea that the poison should be removed from the body as quickly as possible through vomiting is wrong. According to Dr. Hermanns-Clausen "should under no circumstances induce vomiting, because caustic substances can then damage the esophagus again." In addition, the risk increases that the toxins get into the respiratory tract and damage the lungs there.
Home remedies for poisoning are rather critical
Dr. also evaluates other supposed home remedies for poisoning. Hermanns-Clausen extremely critical. For example, salt should not be taken, as this can cause poisoning, the Freiburg expert warns. Drinking milk also helps the poison more than your own body. "The fat content of the milk may increase the intake"; so the note in the message from the University Hospital Freiburg.
Mostly toddlers affected by poisoning
The majority of calls to the Poisoning Information Center in Freiburg refer to cases of poisoning of children up to the age of five. "Children are most often swallowed by curiosity, especially machine and hand dishwashing detergents," reports Dr. Often medication would also lead to poisoning, but plants of all kinds are also possible triggers. The plants especially attract young children magically, the expert emphasizes. The children would prefer plants with colorful berries such as cherry laurel, yew, privet or physalis. For houseplants, the Ficus benjamina tops the list of the most frequently swallowed plants. Over 80 percent of cases of poisoning with plants in childhood can be found among one to four year olds.
Poisoning in adults
Children are the largest proportion of cases of poisoning, but poisoning with plants is also not uncommon in adults. The reason for this is usually confusion. For example, collecting wild wild garlic in spring is very popular. Then tasty salads or spices are prepared from it. "The problem is that the wild garlic leaves can be confused with autumn timeless leaves and lily of the valley leaves and they are extremely toxic," warns Dr. As a result, ignorant collectors can easily become poisoned. The situation is similar for mushroom picking, for example, since toxic and non-toxic species are sometimes very similar. (fp)