Information on this website is not to be used in an emergency situation. Please call 1-800-222-1222 for poisoning emergencies.

Poison Myths and Realities

Myth: If someone drinks or eats poison, he or she should immediately throw up.

Reality: Throwing up might be the wrong thing to do. Some poisons that can be tolerated when ingested at low doses can cause greater problems if they are breathed into the lungs, which is a risk when vomiting. Call poison control first to find out the best way to treat the person.

Myth: Everyone should keep syrup of ipecac in their home in case poison is ingested.

Reality: Syrup of ipecac is used to cause vomiting, but throwing up might be the wrong thing to do. Some poisons that can be tolerated when ingested at low doses can cause greater problems if they are breathed into the lungs, which is a risk when vomiting. Call poison control first to find out the best way to treat the person.

Myth: Drinking milk will counteract any ingested poison.

Reality: Milk is not magic, and in many cases it can cause an upset stomach. Call poison control to find out the best way to treat the person. 

Myth: If it’s natural it won’t hurt you.

Reality: Any substance can be harmful if it’s used the wrong way or in the wrong amount. Call the poison control center to find out the best way to treat the person.

Myth: If you get bitten by a snake, put a tourniquet on the affected limb and cut an “X” over the fang marks.

Reality: Do not use a tourniquet or cut the wound. Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water, then call the poison control center to find out the best way to treat the person.