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Toxicologist

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 19.06.2018

The need for emergency care in conditions of poisoning can occur in doctors of any specialty. In the modern world, we are surrounded by a mass of various toxic substances, which increases the risk of toxic effects on any organ or system in the body. Such situations are possible both in production, and in everyday life, in transport, on vacation. Specialized first aid in case of acute poisoning is provided by a toxicology doctor, a specialist engaged in the elimination of toxic effects on the body of certain substances.

Who is a toxicologist?

Every day and every hour we experience the effects of various chemical compounds and substances. This and household chemicals, and cosmetics, and contaminated ecology, etc., etc. Scientists have found that in the environment can count more than five million all kinds of chemical compounds. At least 60 000 such compounds are used as food additives (more than 5000 titles), about 4000 titles - in the form of medicines, more than 2000 - in the form of pesticides. The number of chemicals that are used in industry, the agricultural sector, medicine or in the home is constantly growing, which in time creates an increasing danger to human health.

Acute poisoning - a frequent phenomenon in medical practice, so the medicine allocated a special category of a doctor who would be engaged in purely treatment, prevention and study of all kinds of poisoning. Such a doctor is a specialist toxicologist.

The specialty of a toxicologist appeared in medicine of the XIX century, and since then not only has not exhausted itself, but has become more in demand.

When should I go to a toxicologist?

The toxicologist should be treated at the first signs and symptoms of poisoning:

  • industrial poisons that can be used in industry (poisoning with dichloroethane, methane, propane, butane, dyes, freon, alcohols, plasticizers, etc.);
  • pesticides that are used to destroy pests of agricultural crops (poisoning with pesticides, insecticides, mercury-containing substances, carbamic acid preparations);
  • medicines (reception of unknown medicines, overdose);
  • household chemicals, hygiene products and cosmetics, care products for the premises and clothing;
  • biocides, which are found in plants, fungi, and also transmitted by snake bites, insects;
  • military-chemical poisoning agents (striking gases sarin, mustard gas, phosgene, etc.).

The reason for applying to a toxicologist may be alcohol or drug poisoning, as well as suicidal or criminal acceptance of poisonous substances.

What tests should I take when I go to a toxicologist?

Among the main tests that a toxicologist can prescribe at the first admission, one can single out the following:

  • general analysis of blood and urine;
  • analysis of lymph;
  • analysis of cerebrospinal fluid;
  • Diagnosis of the cardiovascular system (electrocardiography, rheography, etc.);
  • diagnostics of the central nervous system (encephalography), etc.

Before the diagnosis is made, the patient's survey, examination and examination of the clinical signs of the disease are also taken into account.

What diagnostic methods does the toxicologist use?

A toxicologist can use methods of instrumental (functional) and laboratory diagnostics.

  • Encephalography - helps determine the bioelectrical activity of the brain and its changes during intoxication with psychotropic and neurotropic substances.
  • Electrocardiography - helps to assess the presence and volume of toxic damage to the heart, as well as check the rhythm and quality of cardiac conduction.
  • Oxymometry and spirography are methods of diagnosing respiratory disorders.
  • Fibroblochoscopy and X-ray of the lungs are used mainly for the diagnostic determination of toxic pneumonia.
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy - diagnosis of damage to the organs of the digestive system.
  • Radionuclide methods are diagnostic methods for suspected toxic damage to the liver and kidneys.

Laboratory diagnostic methods may include the following tests and studies:

  • Detection of toxic agents in body fluids (in blood, urine, liquid liquor);
  • gas-liquid chromatography, spectrophotometry - methods capable of confirming the presence of a toxic substance in a biomaterial using chemical reactions or instrumental methods.

The final diagnosis of intoxication is established by the toxicology doctor, based on the results of chemical-toxicological studies and information on the clinical examination of the patient, with the obligatory consideration of specific and nonspecific biochemical analyzes.

What does a toxicologist do?

The toxicologist deals with acute and chronic poisoning and is able to solve a wide range of problems including knowledge of chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, immunology, genetics, etc. The toxicologist's task consists in the clinical and laboratory diagnosis of poisoning, the clinical interpretation of the obtained laboratory data, in the development of effective and qualified treatment poisonings, in the study of the epidemiology of poisoning, their causes and preventive measures.

Specificity of the toxicology doctor's work is to quickly and qualitatively take the right decisions and build the right treatment tactics for acute poisoning. A toxicologist must be collected in any situation in order to competently provide the necessary help and facilitate the patient's condition.

The toxicologist should be aware of the options for the effects on human organs and systems of medicinal preparations, plant and animal poisons, chemical compounds, alcohol and narcotic drugs, nicotine. The doctor must understand the specifics of military, aviation, judicial and even cosmic toxicology, to know the toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics of all poisons known on the planet.

What diseases are treated by a toxicologist?

A toxicologist treats acute and chronic poisoning (intoxication) - pathological conditions that are associated with the exposure of a human body to a poison. The role of the poison can be performed by almost any chemical substance that can provoke the disruption of vital functions and create a danger to human viability. As a rule, the culprits of poisoning are poisonous substances that have been ingested, or come into the body from outside.

Poisoning can be accompanied by:

  • toxic effects on the liver;
  • toxic damage to the urinary system (kidneys);
  • violation of cardiac activity;
  • respiratory function disorder;
  • damage to the brain.

Tips for the toxicologist

Household poisoning most often occurs after consuming poor-quality food, medicines, after the use of household chemicals and fertilizers, as well as when working with preparations containing mercury. Less often poisoning by heavy metals, alcohols, drugs, carbon monoxide.

Tips toxicologist for the prevention of intoxication can be as follows:

  • Do not use medicines if their shelf life has expired;
  • Do not mix drugs with alcohol, as well as independently increase the dosage of drugs;
  • Do not use methyl alcohol for any other purpose than technical;
  • ethyl alcohol is not recommended for consumption;
  • household chemicals in its composition can contain quite aggressive substances, so these products should be used strictly for their intended purpose;
  • After working with household and other chemicals, it is necessary to ventilate the room well and wash your hands;
  • Do not eat overdue foods and canned food with bloated lids;
  • Wash vegetables and fruits;
  • vegetables and fruits are better to buy in the season: fresh fruits contain much less nitrates than greenhouse or with a long shelf life;
  • Do not eat mushrooms if you are not sure of their origin and sufficient cooking;
  • avoid buying ready-made meals: salads, meat and fish products;
  • Do not store medicines or household chemicals and foods consumed nearby;
  • Do not allow children to store their medicines and household chemicals;
  • Do not store food in containers that previously stored chemicals.

Separately it is necessary to say about another common poisoning - carbon monoxide. Such poisoning is not uncommon during fires, when working in a garage or a transport hangar with poor air access. Carbon monoxide can also be poisoned if there is a malfunction in the heating system in the room.

Any person should know and be able to provide feasible first aid in case of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Ensure the inflow of fresh air to the affected person;
  • to cover the victim in order to avoid the supercooling of his body;
  • bring a tampon with ammonia to the respiratory system;
  • if breathing has stopped or is disrupted, ventilator should be conducted;
  • ensure the delivery of the victim to any nearby health facility.

Remember: in any critical situation associated with poisoning, a specialist toxicologist can always help and stop intoxication, which will avoid serious and extremely undesirable complications.


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