Overdose and Poisoning

Drugs, medications, and supplements all have a potential propensity for causing an overdose or poisoning. A drug overdose or poisoning can be intentional or unintentional, depending on the situation and the person. Other factors in drug overdose or poisoning are people's sensitivity to various drugs and how they are able to metabolize them. Find out more about various types of drug overdoses and poisoning from articles, overviews and news.

The symptoms of poisoning depend on the substance and the amount you take in. Some poisonous substances, such as carbon monoxide, interfere with the blood's ability to carry oxygen. Others, such as bleach, burn and irritate the digestive system.

Parents and carers should be aware of sudden, unexplained illness in young children, particularly if they are drowsy or unconscious, as poisoning could be the cause.

If you suspect that someone has swallowed a poisonous substance, seek immediate medical advice. Read more aboutwhat to do if you think someone has been poisoned.

General symptoms of poisoning can include:
  • feeling sick
  • being sick
  • diarrhoea
  • stomach pain
  • drowsiness, dizziness or weakness
  • high temperature of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • chills (shivering)
  • loss of appetite
  • headache
  • irritability
  • difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • breathing difficulties
  • producing more saliva than normal
  • skin rash
  • blue lips and skin (cyanosis)
  • burns around the nose or mouth
  • double or blurred vision
  • mental confusion
  • seizures (fits)
  • loss of consciousness
  • coma (in severe cases)
Signs of a medication or drug overdose

Medication overdoses are the most common type of poisoning in the UK. If you take too much of a medicine, you may experience symptoms specific to the medication taken, as well as the more general symptoms listed above.

Some of the most common medications or drugs involved in cases of poisoning are listed below.Specific signs of paracetamol poisoning include:
  • yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • loss of co-ordination
  • low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), which can cause symptoms including sweating, trembling and irritability
  • Aspirin
  • Aspirin was used as a painkiller in the past but is now increasingly used for its blood-thinning properties to preventblood clots.
Specific signs of aspirin poisoning include:
  • sweating
  • rapid breathing
  • ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • temporary hearing loss
  • Tricyclic antidepressants

    Tricyclic antidepressants are used to treat depression as well as a number of other mental health conditions such as panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Some types of tricyclic antidepressants can also be used to treat nerve pain