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How do I tell if my toddler has been poisoned, and what do I do?

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Toddlers can be incredibly resourceful little people, and even if you make every effort to keep them away from household chemicals and poisons, there’s still the risk that they might find, and swallow, something they shouldn’t. Knowing what to do can make all the difference.

First, let’s look at the common symptoms of poisoning:

Burns on the mouth or lips
Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Throat pain that seems excessive
Unconsciousness or convulsions
Extreme fatigue

If your child shows any of these symptoms, then there’s a good chance he or she has swallowed a toxic substance. Here’s what you should do:

First, don’t try to make your child vomit! If the substance your child has swallowed is caustic or acidic, bringing it up could cause further injuries.

Try to determine what your child has swallowed, and have it on hand when you call. Knowing what your child has swallowed, whether it’s poison or medication, can help the people at poison control to determine the treatment.

Contact your local hospital. Assuming you can tell them what the child has swallowed, they will be able to tell, from your child’s weight, age and medical condition (including medications) how serious the poisoning is.

If your child shows serious symptoms, like those listed in this article, take him or her to the hospital (accident & emergency) immediately. Doctors may need to pump your child’s stomach, or administer medication, and the sooner that happens, the better.
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