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Cyanide Poisoning


Cyanide is a chemical gas that can poison you when it is breathed in, touched, or swallowed. Cyanide prevents your body from absorbing oxygen. The lack of oxygen can damage your organs and be life-threatening. Signs and symptoms may include headache, nausea and vomiting, or confusion. Get medical treatment as soon as you think you have been exposed.


Discharge and follow-up:

You may be able to go home once you have not had any symptoms for at least 4 hours. Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

If you are exposed to cyanide again:

Seek medical care right away, even if you are not sure you were exposed.

  • Do not make yourself vomit if you have swallowed cyanide. Cyanide in your vomit could contaminate others, or damage your airway.
  • Remove and bag all items on your body, including clothes, contacts or glasses, and jewelry. Try not to touch affected items with bare hands, or try to touch only a small part of each item. Put affected items into a bag. Put the bagged items into another bag. Let emergency responders take care of the bags. Do not put affected contacts back in, even if they have been rinsed. Eyeglasses can be washed and worn again.
  • Wash your hair and body for 20 minutes with soap and water, and rinse thoroughly. Rinse your eyes with water for 5-15 minutes if they have been exposed to cyanide.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You think or know you were exposed to cyanide again.
  • You have sudden shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fast heartbeat.
  • You have dizziness or confusion.
  • You have a seizure.

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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.

Learn more about Cyanide Poisoning (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.