Poisoning is the ingestion of substances that are dangerous to the organism (e.g. certain plants, mushrooms, gases).


Poisoning is the ingestion of substances that are dangerous to the organism (e.g. certain plants, mushrooms, gases). Nausea, vomiting, pain, cramps and breathing problems are some of the possible symptoms. If poisoning is suspected, the Toxicological Information Centre should be consulted immediately (tel. 145). Dangerous substances must be kept out of reach of children.


  • Symptoms and consequences to health depend on ...
    • Type and amount of the harmful substance
    • Age, body weight, time since ingestion, general physical condition
  • General symptoms
  • Shock symptoms
    • Freezing cold, cold sweat
    • Pale, agitated, loss of consciousness
    • Respiratory and circulatory arrest
  • Gases
    • Shortness of breath, feeling of suffocation
    • Muscle cramps, paralysis, loss of consciousness
  • Acids and lye, contact poisons
    • Local acid burns (skin, throat, oesophagus, stomach and bowel)
    • Mucous membranes are painful, swollen
    • Skin turns red and forms blisters

Causes and treatment


  • Harmful substances making their way into the body via the skin, gastrointestinal tract or lungs
    • Cleaning agents, nitro thinners, acids, lye
    • Medication, alcohol, drugs
    • Many plants (in particular leaves and berries)
    • Mushrooms
    • Gases (e.g. carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) or chloric gas
    • Pesticides and insecticides
    • and many others

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Monitoring of vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation, temperature, etc.)
  • Blood test
  • Gastroscopy, if necessary
Possible therapies
  • Depends on substance and symptoms
  • Antitoxin (antidote)
  • Supporting medication
  • Supply of oxygen
  • Gastrolavage (stomach pumping)
  • Dialysis (blood purification)

What can I do myself?

  • Dangerous substances must be kept out of reach of children
  • Official mushroom inspection before eating foraged mushrooms
  • Acids, lye and other aggressive liquids:
    • Dilute chemicals by drinking water or tea
    • Otherwise, don't drink or eat anything without the doctor's permission
  • After acid burns to skin
    • Rinse the affected area with as much water as possible, then bandage
  • After inhalation of gases
    • Ensure fresh air, remember to protect yourself
  • Don't induce vomiting
    • Can cause additional damage to respiratory tract, lungs and throat
    • Danger of suffocation (e.g. formation of foam)

When to see a doctor?

  • Call emergency number 144 (severe symptoms) or the Swiss Toxicological Information Centre (tel. 145, mild symptoms)
    • Who: Who is affected? Age, weight?
    • What: What poison/substance?
    • How much: Estimated volume or concentration
    • When: Presumed time
    • Which: Which symptoms?
    • What: What has been done since
    • Where: Where must the ambulance go? Address
  • Secure what is left of the poison and packaging material and give these to the emergency doctor

Further information

Swiss Toxicological Information Centre (Schweizerisches Toxikologisches Informationszentrum) Emergency in Switzerland: 145
Emergency abroad: +41 44 251 51 51
Tel: 044 251 66 66

Official mushroom inspection


poisons, poisoning, intoxication

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.