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Adult Overdose


An overdose occurs when you take more medicine than is safe to take. An overdose may be mild, or it may be a life-threatening emergency. You may feel drowsy, dizzy, or nauseated, depending on what medicine you took. No specific harm was found to your body as a result of your overdose. Your symptoms have decreased over the last 6 to 12 hours.


Call 911 if you or someone close to you has any of the following symptoms:

  • Your face is very pale and clammy to the touch.
  • Your body is limp or you are unable to speak.
  • You cannot be awakened.
  • Your breathing is slower or faster than usual.
  • Your heart is beating slower than usual.
  • You feel confused or more tired than usual, or you are sweating more than normal.
  • Your speech is slurred.
  • Your fingernails or lips are blue or purple.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have severe nausea and vomiting.
  • You cannot have a bowel movement or urinate.
  • Your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You think your medicine is not working.
  • You have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps.
  • You have questions or concerns about your medicine.

Take your medicine as directed:

Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Do not take more medicine that is prescribed. Keep your medicines in the original containers. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Do not share your medicine with others.

Prevent another overdose:

  • Read labels carefully. Read the labels of all the medicines that you take. Never take more than the label says to take. If you have questions, ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider.
  • Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol increases your risk for another overdose. Alcohol can also hide important symptoms that you need to call your healthcare provider for.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery until your healthcare provider says it is okay. These activities may be dangerous after an overdose.
  • Use caution if you take more than one medicine at a time. Mixing medicines or taking more than one medicine at a time can be dangerous.
  • Tell your family or friends what medicines you are taking. Talk with them about what to do if you have an overdose.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to see a counselor or psychiatrist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.