Corrosives are substances that rapidly destroy
or decompose tissues at the point of contact.
Note: See(a) under Inorganic Poisons.
GENERAL SYMPTOMS. Immediately, if
taken orally, there is burning pain in the mouth
with severe burning in the esophagus and
stomach. This is followed by retching and
vomiting; the stomach contents are mixed with
dark-colored liquids and shreds of mucous mem-
brane from the mouth, esophagus, and stomach.
The inside of the mouth is corroded and the lips
present a characteristic stain if an acid has been
used. Swallowing is very difficult, respiration is
impeded, the abdomen is tender and distended
with gas, the temperature is high, and the facial
expression shows anxiety and great suffering.
Irritant poisons are those agents that do not
directly destroy the body tissues but set up an in-
flammatory process at the site of application or
contact. Some examples are potassium nitrate,
silver nitrate, arsenic, and phosphorus.
GENERAL SYMPTOMS. There is usually
nausea, vomiting, and purging (frequently the
vomitus and stools contain blood), pain, and
cramps in the abdomen. In some cases, there is
inflammation of the urinary tract.
Neurotics are poisons that act on the brain,
spinal cord, and the central nervous system. Some
examples are opium, ether, chloroform, bella-
donna, ethyl and methyl alcohol, and the
GENERAL SYMPTOMS. Symptoms may
be divided into two subclasses.
Depressants. They produce symptoms
characterized by a period of exhilaration, followed
by drowsiness and stupor; slow breathing; cold,
clammy skin; cyanosis; slow pulse; muscular
relaxation; dilated or contracted pupils; and in-
sensibility to external impressions.
Stimulants .These produce symptoms
characterized by rapid and feeble pulse; delirium;
hot and dry skin; a sense of suffocation and the
inability to breathe; shuddering and jerking of
muscles; dilated or contracted pupils; distorted
vision; and sometimes convulsions and tetany.
Examples are strychnine or amphetamines.
These are poisons present in the gaseous state
and, if inhaled, destroy the oxygen carrying prop-
erty of the blood and irritate the tissues of the
lungs and air passages. When in contact with the
skin or mucous membranes, gaseous poisons are
GENERAL SYMPTOMS. These include ir-
ritation and corrosion of the respiratory tract,
with resultant bronchitis (either mild or severe)
and irritation of the eyes, mouth, stomach, and
Food poisoning can cause acute attacks of ill-
ness in more people in a short time than any other
condition. The term food poisoning is conven-
tionally divided into two types, FOOD INTOX-
ICATION and FOOD INFECTION.
Food intoxication is due to a specific toxin
produced outside the body; for example, the toxin
in Clostridium botulinum. Other organisms cause
food intoxication by producing toxins, the exact
nature of which is imperfectly understood. These
toxins are formed under suitable conditions,
usually by Staphylococci, occasionally by Strep-
tococci, and rarely by Coliform and Proteus
Food infection is usually caused by a specific
group of organisms, namely the Salmonella
group, but occasionally by the dysentery group.
GENERAL SYMPTOMS. Gastrointestinal
distress, nausea, vomiting, maybe diarrhea,
urticaria, and circulatory and nervous system dis-
turbances are the general symptoms of food
poisoning. They may vary from mild discomfort
to violent disturbances of the normal functions
of the body. In more acute forms, the necrologic
symptoms may overshadow the gastrointestinal
symptoms, followed by collapse. Death is usually
due to respiratory paralysis, cardiac failure, or
POISON CONTROL CENTERS
The United States Public Health Service has
established a clearing house for poison informa-
tion. Its chief purpose is to interchange informa-
tion with many local poison control centers
established throughout the country. The centers
have been established at major medical centers