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 membrane 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 inflammatory 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, belladonna, ethyl and methyl alcohol, and the barbiturates.
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 insensibility 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 property 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 highly irritating.
GENERAL SYMPTOMS. These include irritation and corrosion of the respiratory tract, with resultant bronchitis (either mild or severe) and irritation of the eyes, mouth, stomach, and kidneys.
Food poisoning can cause acute attacks of illness in more people in a short time than any other condition. The term food poisoning is conventionally divided into two types, FOOD INTOXICATION 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 Streptococci, and rarely by Coliform and Proteus groups.
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 disturbances 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 secondary pneumonia.
The United States Public Health Service has established a clearing house for poison information. Its chief purpose is to interchange information with many local poison control centers established throughout the country. The centers have been established at major medical centers