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Dirt - swallowing

Definition

This is poisoning from swallowing or eating dirt.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Poisonous Ingredient

There are no particular poisonous ingredients unless the dirt contains contaminants such as insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, parasites, and waste.

Where Found

  • Dirt

Symptoms

Swallowing dirt may cause constipation and  intestinal obstruction, which results in stomach pain.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following information:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

See: Poison control center - emergency number

What to expect at the emergency room

The patient may not need to visit an emergency room. If the person goes to the hospital, treatment may include:

  • Medicines to treat the symptoms

Expectations (prognosis)

Recovery is very likely unless the dirt contains something that can cause complications.  

References

Weinberg A, Levin MJ. Infections: parasitic and mycotic. In: Hay WW Jr, Levin MJ, Sondheimer JM, Deterding RR, eds. Current Pediatric Diagnosis and Treatment. 19th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2009:chap 39.


Review Date: 10/2/2009
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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