Q:

What are the symptoms of cyanide poisoning?

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Quick Answer

Drugs.com states that cyanide poisoning can present symptoms such as headaches, confusion, dizziness, anxiety, nausea and vomiting as well as restlessness, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, loss of consciousness and seizures. The severity of symptoms is dependent on the amount of cyanide ingested. Cyanide poisoning occurs when a person inhales, ingests or touches cyanide, a poisonous chemical that prevents oxygen absorption in the body.

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Full Answer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that symptoms are present within minutes of cyanide exposure. Cyanide poisoning is treated with antidotes that bind with the cyanide in the body to excrete it through the urine. The antidotes and treatments are most effective when taken as quickly as possible after the exposure. Blood tests can confirm the presence and absence of cyanide after the event. Survivors of cyanide poisoning may experience long-term heart, brain, nerve and lung damage.

The CDC states that cyanide is present in many foods and products. For example, cassava, lima beans, almonds and fruit pits from peaches, apples and apricots release cyanide when metabolized. Combustion products from plastics and cigarettes contain moderate levels of cyanide as well. The most dangerous form of cyanide is its gaseous form that can be inhaled to cause cyanide poisoning.

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