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Acute poisoning - Adults

Most of the serious poisonings that occur among adults are intentional, and involves a drug overdose, or abuse of narcotics. Serious poison accidents also occur at chemical industries, and in case of fire. The use of household chemicals can also sometimes be hazardous. Adder bites, and to confuse poisonous mushrooms with edible ones can also cause serious poisoning. Don't wait for symptoms to occur, call the Poison Centre immediately to get advice!


  • A person who has difficulty breathing, increasing drowsiness, unconsciousness or convulsions must seek medical attention immediately. Call 112 for an ambulance.
  • A person that is unconscious should be put in a semi-prone position (see the picture below) to prevent the tongue from obstructing the airway and aspiration of vomit or stomach acid.
  • If the person stops breathing, assisted ventilation may be required.


Chemical products

The use of household chemicals can sometimes be hazardous. There are some products that are highly caustic, such as lye, 24% acetic acid, lime remover, drain cleaner and ammonia. Methanol and ethylene glycol are examples of highly toxic compounds.


Give something to drink.

  • If a corrosive substance has been swallowed, rinse the mouth immediately with plenty of water and give something to drink. Do NOT induce vomiting.
  • If a petroleum product has been swallowed, give a couple of tablespoons of cream; do not force the intake and don't give cream if the person shows any symptoms. Do NOT induce vomiting. If the person vomits, coughs or has difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Call The Poison Centre for more advice.

Note: Never give anything by mouth to a person who is lethargic or otherwise affected.

Eye exposure

  • Immediately rinse the eye with plenty of water for at least 5 minutes.
  • If it is a corrosive substance, rinse for at least 15 minutes and seek immediate medical attention. Continue rinsing the eye during transportation to the hospital.
  • Call The Poison Centre for more advice.

Skin exposure

  • Immediately rinse the skin with plenty of water, and then wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Remove contaminated clothing.
  • Call The Poison Centre for more advice.


  • Move the person into fresh air.
  • After inhalation of some toxic or irritating gases, it is important to rest and avoid exertion.
  • Call The Poison Centre for more advice.


Drugs represent a big risk in case of overdose; most serious poisonings that occur among adults are intentional drug overdoses, or abuse. It’s also common to take the wrong dose for different reasons, for example taking too many pain killers/analgesics because of pain, which can be very risky. A frequently occurring situation which normally is safe, is to take a double dose by mistake, because you have forgotten that you already have taken your medicine. In case of drug overdose: Call The Poison Centre immediately for advice. See also Important above.


The most common cause of serious mushroom poisonings is to confuse poisonous mushrooms with edible ones, and eat them as a meal. Immigrants represent a special risk for several reasons. An example is that an edible mushroom in their native country might look similar to a poisonous mushroom in Sweden. In case of suspected mushroom poisoning: Call The Poison Centre for advice. Keep the mushroom in case it needs to be identified later.

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