What Are the Symptoms of Poisoning?

Marlene Garcia

Symptoms of poisoning vary by type of substance, the amount ingested, and the length of time that elapses after exposure, but some symptoms are typical. They include headache and breathing problems if toxic fumes were inhaled. In cases of ingestion, common symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Chemical burns might also appear in the mouth and throat; if poison comes into contact with the skin or eyes, it might cause a burning sensation. Other common symptoms of poisoning include sleepiness, confusion, and irritability that may lead to seizures or unconsciousness.

Symptoms of poisoning may include excessive sweating.
Symptoms of poisoning may include excessive sweating.

The symptoms of poisoning might be mild, moderate, or severe. Mild symptoms generally appear as weakness and fatigue, with or without abnormal perspiration. A poisoning victim might lose his or her appetite and begin losing weight, and vomiting or nausea might occur. Episodes of dizziness may develop, along with moodiness or restlessness. These symptoms of poisoning typically occur when small amounts of a toxic substance build up in the body over time.

Symptoms of poisoning may include breathing problems.
Symptoms of poisoning may include breathing problems.

When poisoning is deemed moderate, the nausea might become more pronounced and be accompanied by diarrhea with painful abdominal cramping. The muscles might twitch and feel weak, with complete loss of muscular control in some cases. Patients suffering moderate poisoning symptoms might also sweat profusely or drool. Breathing might become difficult, and a cough could develop.

Symptoms of poisoning may include abdominal cramping.
Symptoms of poisoning may include abdominal cramping.

Severe poisoning may produce muscle spasms and difficulty breathing. Sometimes the patient’s pupils appear as tiny pinpoints. In extreme situations, serious symptoms of poisoning include convulsions, seizures, and unconsciousness that could lead to death if not treated.

Various types of poisoning cause vomiting.
Various types of poisoning cause vomiting.

Vomiting should not be induced after a poison is swallowed unless a physician or poison control center advises it. Some caustic chemicals might cause further damage when purged, including any petroleum product. Syrup of ipecac will provoke vomiting in instances where it is recommended, usually within 15 minutes. Ipecac should be followed by plenty of water or juice.

Skin or eye poisoning should be flushed with lots of water as soon as possible. The water should be tepid and not hot. For chemical burns on the skin, salves and ointments are not advised because they could make the condition worse.

Almost all poisoning occurs in the home. Chemicals added to household cleaners, cosmetics, and plant foods may be toxic. Some houseplants also cause symptoms of poisoning if they are eaten. Inhalation poisoning is possible when using paint thinner or similar chemicals in a room without adequate ventilation.

Nausea is a possible symptom of poisoning.
Nausea is a possible symptom of poisoning.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@MrsPramm - It's possible to go for a long time without food though, so trying unfamiliar plants should only be the very last resort. Even experienced outdoors people can end up killing themselves by accident when they eat the wrong thing.

And not all poisoning is going to look the same. You might not even know you've been poisoned until it's too late.


@croydon - That's actually a good thing to learn when you're a kid. If you're ever stuck in the wilderness and you aren't sure what is safe to eat, a burning sensation is one of the symptoms of poisoning to watch out for.

This is only for emergencies, but you basically try a berry or leaf by sticking it on your tongue for a little while without chewing or swallowing and then waiting to see if you notice burning or numbing. Then you try nibbling a tiny bit and wait for another hour to make sure nothing happens. Then you eat a little bit and wait overnight before you eat more.

Again, this is only in the most dire emergency situations, because it's still possible to die or become seriously ill from doing this, but it's the safest way of trying unfamiliar foods if you've got no other choice.


I think that burning in the mouth can be one of the most common symptoms of poisoning. When I was a kid I ate some rhubarb leaves from our garden because I thought that was the part of the plant you eat (it's actually the stalk) and my mother panicked because she knew that the leaves were poisonous.

My mouth was burning and she basically rushed me to the doctor because she was convinced that I had hurt myself, but the burning was the only thing that happened. The leaves are apparently not the best thing to eat, but they are only truly bad for rabbits and other small animals.

Post your comments
Forgot password?