PEDIATRIC FIRST AID. How to deal with poisoning of the digestive tract.

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When we decided to be teachers and we entered for the first time into the dogmatized world of the university, we discovered that the well-respected university also has its shortcomings. On one hand there are subjects that may not be required and on the other, there are imperative subjects missing.

How can these old-fashioned subjects still remain on the syllabus? these are subjects with little use in our daily reality. I am almost certain that many of us do not remember the subject-matter or even the subject name. But nevertheless, at the same time, we find a brutal lack of some basic knowledge that should be there in our training period. Pediatric First Aid is the perfect example.

Families leave us their most valuable asset, their children, and teachers are responsible for a whole school full of those precious lives. Additionally, these children are vulnerable and unable to protect themselves, but at the precise moment in life where they have less sense of risk. Those who understand this educational stage in depth, be it teacher or be it parent, can bear witness to the great need of investigating the world that children have at this age. Definitely it is a healthy need, but at the same time, it can bring dangers or frights.

Of course, addressing it properly is a task for professionals, our intervention does not replace that of a healthcare professional. However, our intervention of caring for the child until medical help arrives can be crucial.

So complaining is of little use. Let’s be smart. We will focus on what we can change for sure to improve the situation: to inform ourselves.
What should I know after read this post?
As a rule we do NOT induce vomiting. Specially in cases of unconscious people, when we have doubts about what to do or when we do not know what the child swallowed.poisoning

With First Aid knowledge we can take the right action. For guidance, I will tell you five types of poisoning of the digestive tract most frequent according to the pediatric first aid course I took in Murcia (Spain):

1. SPOILED FOOD. Children are more sensitive to this type of intoxication. If it happens, we should rinse the mouth with water and wash with soap the hands or any other parts of the body that have been in contact with the food. If the child has diarrhea and vomiting, it is very important re-hydrate him/her to replenish lost fluids and minerals.

2. INGESTION OF A FOREIGN BODY. Treatment will be different depending on the size of the object. Small harmless objects will naturally pass through the digestive track on their own. Otherwise seek medical help. Meanwhile, we can put an ice pack on the abdomen, but never hot water. In the case of ingesting batteries, we induce vomiting when it comes to button cells, but never when it is alkaline battery.


A) Caustics. We understand caustic as something that burns. For example ammonia, depilatory creams or nail polish remover products are caustic. In this case it is advisable not to give anything to eat or drink to the child. Likewise, do NOT induce vomiting as this can cause burning of the esophagus twice.

B) No caustics. These are generally less toxic but can cause burning of the mouth, vomiting and abdominal pain. The most common are soaps, detergents, fabric softeners, mothballs or toilet flushing tablets. In most of these cases we can induce vomiting or give water.

C) Non-toxic substances. These are those substances with are not toxic in small amounts, but are toxic in large amounts. For example, modern bleaches or toothpaste. In schools we can find some non-toxic some water-based paints, modeling clay, white glue, pencil, erasers or ink pen (except the green and red because are highly toxic). In the event that a small amount has been ingested, it will be enough to allow the subtence to pass naturally. Other hand, if it has been ingested in large amounts, you must follow the same procedure as in the case of ingestion of caustic products.

4. POISONING ASSOCIATED WITH ALCOCHOL. If a child has swallowed alcohol you have several options. Inducing vomiting unless than two hours have passed after ingestion, because alcohol is not found in the stomach once this time has elapsed. It is also advisable to drink sugary fluids.

5. MEDICINE POISONING. Children tend to put everything in their mouth. As well as this, they may mistake tablets for delicious sweats. Of course, It is best not to leave any drug within reach of children, if they do take any, with this type of intoxication we must consider inducing vomiting.

TIP 1! It can be very helpful to take the label or container that has been ingested so health professionals know how to treat.

TIP 2! keep handy the NHS Direct number (111) or website to ask them what to do in an incident when you know for certain the product that has been ingested, or call emergency (999).

Ainoa Cano