Drug overdose


Overdose with drugs or chemicals can be both accidental and intentional. An overdose is defined as when a person takes a higher than prescribed dose of a certain drug.

But some people may be more sensitive to certain medications and a prescription to increase the dose may be toxic to them.

Exposure to substances, plants and other toxic substances may cause an allergic reaction in the body, the response of the immune system to the substance is called poisoning.

The higher the dose or the longer the exposure, the more severe the poisoning. For example, mushroom and carbon monoxide poisoning.

People react differently to high doses of medication. Treatment is tailored to the patient’s needs and condition. Any person can, for one reason or another, take an excessive dose of a given drug.

But the most common cases of medication overdose are very young children aged 8-9 months, when they start crawling by the age of 5.

What are the symptoms?

Drugs affect the whole body. Usually, with an overdose, the therapeutic effects of the medication, observed with regular use, increase.

In overdose, adverse drug reactions are more pronounced, as well as their other effects, which do not occur with normal use. A large overdose of some drugs can cause completely harmless reactions.

While in others, a very small increase in the dose can cause a severe reaction in the body and even cause death. A single dose of some medicines can be fatal for a small child.

In some cases of overdose, the deterioration of the chronic disease of the affected person is observed. For example, an increased dose of a drug can cause an asthma attack and a feeling of chest pain.

• Problems with the vital indicators /temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure/ are possible and when the deviations from the normal levels of the indicators are too great, they can be life-threatening. There is a possibility that no vital signs can be detected.

• Drowsiness, confusion and coma are common, but can be dangerous if, for example, the affected person inhales the vomit into the lungs /aspiration/;

• The skin may be cool and moist or hot and dry to the touch;

• Chest pain can be due to heart or lung damage. The affected person may feel short of breath. Breathing can be fast and shallow or deep and slow;

• Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are possible. Vomiting blood or bloody stools can be life-threatening.

• Specific drugs can cause damage to the organ or system they affect.

Treatment of drug overdose

Treatment will be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the drug that caused the overdose.

The information that will be very useful to the doctor in order to judge the treatment to prescribe is with which drug exactly and when the overdose occurred and what amount was used, as well as accompanying health problems.

• If not much time has passed since the overdose, gastric lavage is performed, and the stomach contents are removed from the body with a nasophageal tube.

Activated charcoal can be given prophylactically to absorb the medicine and keep it in the stomach and intestines. This limits its absorption into the blood.

The medicine absorbed by the activated charcoal is excreted with the faeces. It is often recommended to take a cleansing agent along with activated charcoal, which helps the medication to be removed from the body more quickly.

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