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Toxicology

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 138 views

Toxicology examines the harmful effects of chemical substances on living beings, especially humans. Clinical toxicology focuses on the detection and treatment of poisoning.

A distinction is made between acute and chronic poisoning. Acute poisoning occurs, for example, with drug overdoses, snake bites or the consumption of toxic substances.

Chronic poisoning can be caused, for example, by general environmental toxins or by inhaling toxic substances at the workplace. The intake of foreign substances through food, drinking water, the air we breathe or the soil can also lead to chronic poisoning. Particularly noteworthy here is the carcinogenic effect of aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, fine dust and diesel soot particles.

The following types of poisoning are very common:

  • drug poisoning
  • Poisoning with household chemicals such as washing-up liquid, descaler or dishwashing liquid
  • Consumption of poisonous plants (lily of the valley, privet, poinsettia)
  • food poisoning
  • mushroom poisoning
  • Poisoning by cosmetics
  • Smoke inhalation (fatal acute poisoning)
  • Drug overdose (fatal acute poisoning)
  • Bite or stings from poisonous animals (adder, black widow and other poisonous spiders, scorpion, etc.)

Sections of toxicology

Toxicology deals with the nature of different toxins and their health effects. There are different areas of toxicology. These include:

Food toxicology: It focuses on the harmful substances in food and drinking water. These can be of natural origin or caused by human activity.

Toxicology of consumer goods: It examines the harmful substances in consumer goods such as cosmetics.

Environmental toxicology / ecotoxicology: It deals with harmful substances in the environment (water, air and soil) that can have negative effects on humans and animals.

Drug toxicology: It analyzes the undesirable effects of drugs (side effects).

Toxicology of biocides: It deals with the undesirable and harmful effects of substances and products that are used against pests and pests (pesticides, rat poison, mosquito spray, antibacterial cleaning agents, etc.).

Prompt action in case of poisoning!

If poisoning is suspected, the emergency doctor should be called immediately . Acute poisoning in particular can be immediately life-threatening. Fast help is then needed. Some clinics offer a poison control center where relatives can find out what needs to be done until the emergency doctor arrives (first aid measures).

Toxicological Screening

Whether acute or chronic – the decisive factor for the correct treatment of poisoning is which poison is responsible. If you don’t know this, toxicologists use special screening programs that examine the patient for the most important toxins. There are also special screenings for selected substance groups that search more specifically.

antidote

Once the triggering toxin has been identified, appropriate therapy can be initiated. Especially in the case of acute poisoning, the administration of an antidote can be life-saving. This is an antidote that can stop or at least slow down the effects of the poison in the body. For some toxins there is also the possibility of removing them from the blood and body depots with suitable substances.

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