How to treat poisoning

If this is an emergency, please call 000 immediately.

What is poisoning?

Poisons information centre 13 11 26.

Poisoning occurs when someone is sufficiently exposed to a substance that can cause illness, injury or death.

This guide is regularly updated and aligns with the current edition of Australian First Aid (4th edition, 7/2011)

Signs and Symptoms


      • Bite or injection marks, with or without local swelling
      • Burns around and inside the mouth or on the tongue
      • Smell of fumes
      • Odours on the breath
      • Burning pain from mouth to stomach
      • Nausea, vomiting
      • Abdominal pain
      • Difficulty in breathing
      • Tight feeling in chest
      • Headache
      • Ringing in ears
      • Blurred vision
      • Blue lips, face, earlobes, fingernails
      • Drowsiness
      • Loss of consciousness
      • Seizures

What to do




Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.


Call triple zero (000) for fire services if the air is contaminated with smoke or gas.


Reassure the patient.


Find out what sort of poison is involved, if possible, and record the information for medical personnel.


Call the Poisons Information Centre 13 11 26, and follow their advice.


If the patient is becoming drowsy, place them in the recovery position and continue to check their airway and breathing regularly.

Send any vomit, containers and suicide notes with the patient to hospital.



Poisoning fact sheet

DRSABCD poster

Related advice

Smoke and embers in your eyes

Exposure to smoke and harmful or poisonous gases and chemicals can lead to eye irritation, pain and discomfort. Here’s how to treat smoke or embers in your eyes.

Burns and scalds

Remember – do not apply oils, ointment, fat or ice to burns, and do not touch the injured or blistered area. Here’s a handy fact sheet of how to treat different types of burns and scalds.

Choking adult or child

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of choking, and what to do in a situation where an adult or child is choking.

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