Antidotes for poisoning may vary depending on the type of poison involved. A common antidote for poisoning is acetylcysteine, often used for acetaminophen poisoning. A patient who has suffered smoke inhalation may be given an antidote of hydroxocobalamin. This drug is also suitable for victims of cyanide poisoning. Most antidotes are administered through an intravenous (IV) drip or an oral solution.
One of the most widely used antidotes for poisoning is syrup of ipecac. An alternate name for this syrup is Brazil root. This antidote may be used for various types of non-caustic poisoning. This antidote should be administered only to fully conscious individuals.
The chemicals in syrup of ipecac will induce vomiting, typically within a short period of time. Proper dosing should be followed according to directions. People who are allergic to emetine and cephaeline should not use syrup of ipecac.
For many types of snake bites, an antivenin must be administered, either through an IV or orally. Before administering the antivenin, the physician will need to positively identify the species of snake that has bitten the patient. Common types of antivenin solutions are crotalidae and elapidae. The antidote for a black widow spider bite is calcium gluconate or latrodectus antivenin. Bites from non poisonous spiders will not require an antivenin, although medications may be used to reduce pain and inflammation.
Not all antidotes for poisoning are given in chemical form. A procedure known as gastric lavage involves pumping the stomach to rid the body of toxic substances. This is an irrigation method in which a small tube is placed down to the stomach via the mouth, or occasionally through the nose. Suctioning may also be performed under certain circumstances, to reduce the risk of aspiration from vomiting.
As one of the most effective antidotes for poisoning, many hospital emergency room physicians use activated charcoal. This is typically given after the procedure of gastric lavage. The activated charcoal is a non toxic substance that aids in the absorption of poisons from the stomach and intestinal tract. Activated charcoal in bottles and tubes may be available for purchase at medical supply stores.
Before administering any of the antidotes for poisoning, it is vital to identify the toxic substance to which the patient has been exposed. People who have ingested caustic substances should never be given an antidote to induce vomiting, as this could cause serious damage to the person's throat, esophagus, or mouth.