What is Oleander Poisoning?
- Oleander (botanical name Nerium oleander) is a bright flowering plant native to Asia. All parts of this garden plant are considered poisonous
- Oleander Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake of the plant or plant product containing the compound
- The condition is diagnosed based upon the clinical history, combination of signs and symptoms, and additional tests (that may include, in some cases, radiological studies and laboratory tests)
Oleander Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:
- Nerium Poisoning
- Oleander Toxicity
- Rosebay Poisoning
- Thevetia Peruviana Poisoning
- Yellow Oleander Poisoning
What are the Causes of Oleander Poisoning?
- Oleander Poisoning is caused by eating oleander plant or plant products
- This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
- The toxins contained in the plant are termed oleander cardiac glycosides; all parts of the plant (leaves, stems, and flowers) may contain the toxin
Note: The compound can interact with other prescribed or non-prescribed medications in the body. Such interactions may enhance the therapeutic effects of other medications being taken, resulting in undesired side effects.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Oleander Poisoning?
The signs and symptoms can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. The signs and symptoms of Oleander Poisoning may include:
- Fever and headache
- Decrease in heart-rate and blood pressure (hypotension)
- Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Pain in the stomach and abdomen
- Confusion, disorientation
- Numbness and loss of sensation
- Vision abnormalities including blurred vision
- Skin rashes and hives due to an allergic reaction
- Feeling dizzy or faint
- In case of severe toxicity - depression and appearance of halo around objects may be seen
The poison is known to affect the digestive, nervous, and vascular systems.
How is First Aid administered for Oleander Poisoning?
First Aid tips for Oleander Poisoning:
- Call 911 or your local emergency help number immediately, for emergency assistance
- Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or your local poison control center) for further instructions
- Provide them with information such as the compound taken, quantity and time of ingestion, age, weight and general health status of affected individual
- Confirm that the airways are protected; also, ensure breathing and the presence of pulse
- Unless instructed by a healthcare professional, DO NOT induce vomiting in the affected individual
- Clean the mouth to remove any remaining pieces; wipe mouth with a wet cloth
- Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
- Always try to take the plant or plant product to the ER
The emergency medical health professional might perform the following steps towards treating the condition:
- Gastric lavage for elimination of the substance from the stomach (irrigation using special solutions)
- Medically manage symptoms
- Provide breathing support, if necessary
- Administer suitable medication to counter the effects of the toxin
- Administer activated charcoal to avoid absorbance of the substance in the body
- Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line, if necessary
Who should administer First Aid for Oleander Poisoning?
First aid for Oleander Poisoning is administered by healthcare professionals.
- The individual who is affected, or someone near, should call 911 for emergency assistance (or the local emergency number)
- They should also call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow instructions
What is the Prognosis of Oleander Poisoning?
- The prognosis of Oleander Poisoning is dependent on the amount of substance consumed, time between consumption and treatment, severity of the symptoms, as well as general health status of the patient
- If the individual can recover from the symptoms that occur due to mild poisoning, the outcome is generally good, with appropriate medication and early support. In many cases, most of the affected individuals are known to recover within 1-3 days
- In case of severe symptoms due to poisoning, it may worsen the outcome and/or prolong time of recovery
In general, toxicities are common situations in the emergency departments. A majority of the cases are often not fatal, when appropriate treatment is given.
How can Oleander Poisoning be Prevented?
Oleander Poisoning can be prevented by:
- Avoiding eating wild berries and plants, especially if you have no information about them
- Following working in the garden or fields, hiking, or camping, always wash hands thoroughly, prior to eating anything
- Always follow instructions for usage of any health or cosmetic products
- Keeping cosmetics, medications, and other healthcare products out of reach of children in child-proof containers
- Being aware of basic first aid steps in case of an emergency (such as inadvertent poisoning)
It is important to give your healthcare provider a complete list of prescription and non-prescription medications that are being currently taken. This will help them in assessing the possible drug interactions within various medications and help avoid/prevent accidental or unintentional toxic drug effects.
What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?
- Call 911 (or your local emergency number) for emergency assistance, if symptoms are life-threatening
- Call Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow the recommend steps
- It would be helpful if the following information is readily available:
- Type, amount and time of consumption of the substance
- Age and weight of the individual
- And, the overall health status of the individual