Childhood Poisoning: Non-Toxic

Your child has been assessed for a possible poisoning. It appears that there has been no toxic effect. It's very unlikely that any new symptoms will appear. To be safe, watch for new symptoms during the next 24 hours. The exact symptom will depend on the type of product that was swallowed, inhaled, or came in contact with your child's skin or eyes.

Home care

  • If liquid charcoal was given to neutralize the swallowed product, this may cause nausea and possible vomiting over the next few hours. It will also cause a black color to the stools for 1 to 2 days. You child may be given a laxative with charcoal. This will help toxins move more quickly through the digestive tract. This will cause diarrhea for up to 24 hours. If no laxative was given, your child may be constipated. If your child is constipated, ask your healthcare provider for the best way to treat it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips to prevent accidental poisoning:

  • Store medicines in a medicine cabinet that is locked or out of reach. Don' keep toothpaste, soap, or shampoo in the same cabinet. If you carry a purse, keep potential poisons out of your purse. Keep your child away from other people's purses.

  • Buy medicines with child safety caps. Keep medicines in their original containers. Put the cap on completely after each use. Child resistant does not mean childproof. It only means that it takes longer for a child to get into it. Being alert and aware is very important.

  • Don't take medicine in front of small children. They may try to imitate you later. Never tell a child that a medicine is candy.

  • Store hazardous products in locked cabinets that are out of your child's reach. Generally, don't keep detergents and other cleaning products under the kitchen or bathroom sink. Do so only if the cabinet has a safety latch that locks every time you close it.

  • Never put toxic products in containers that were once used for food. This is especially true for empty drink bottles and cups.

  • Empty and rinse all glasses right away after gatherings where alcohol is served. Keep alcohol in a locked cabinet.

  • Keep batteries in a locked, secure place. This is especially true for small button batteries.

  • Be very alert at a grandparents' home or home of an older relative who may take many medicines and may not have a "child-proofed" house.

Keep the Poison Control Center telephone number, 800-222-1222, in an easy-to-find place.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider if all symptoms don't resolve within 24 hours.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Changes in usual behavior, such as unusual excitement or drowsiness

  • Fast breathing

  • Slow breathing (less than 10 times a minute)

  • Frequent cough or trouble breathing

  • Repeated vomiting or diarrhea

  • Dizziness or weakness

  • Blood in stools or vomit (black or red color)

  • Trembling or seizure

  • Belly pain

  • Fever

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