If a drug overdose is discovered or suspected, and the person is unconscious, having convulsions, or not breathing, emergency help must be called immediately. If the person who took the drug is not having symptoms, it is recommended not to wait to see if symptoms develop, but to call a poison control center immediately. Providing as much information as possible to the poison control center can help determine what the next course of action should be.
The poison control center, paramedics, and emergency room staff will want to know the following:
what drug(s) were taken
how much of the drug was taken
when was the drug taken
if the drug was taken with alcohol or any other drugs or chemicals
what the age of the patient is
what symptoms the patient is experiencing
if the patient is conscious
if the patient is breathing
Gastric lavage—The inside of the stomach is rinsed with a saline (salt water) solution or regular tap water; also called a stomach pump.
Hypotension—Having a low blood pressure: less than 90/60 mmHg.
Intubation—A procedure in which a tube is inserted through the mouth or nose and into the trachea to keep the airway open and to help the patient breathe.
The poison control center may recommend a liquid called ipecac syrup, which is used to induce vomiting. Ipecac syrup is an over-the-counter medication available from pharmacies, and no prescription is required. Pediatricians may advise families to keep ipecac syrup on hand in households with children. This medication should be used only on the advice of a medical professional. An important caveat is that vomiting should not be induced if the patient is unconscious as there is serious risk of choking.
Lori Beck, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,