In some cases, mothballs can be accidentally ingested, especially by young children who tend to put things in their mouths due to curiosity. There are ways in order to recognize the signs of mothball poisoning.
Signs of mothball poisoning
• Assess for fatigue – Always remember that mothballs typically contain either naphthalene or dicholorobenzene in order to kill moths. Naphthalene is the one responsible for causing health problems. Once it is ingested, it kills the red blood cells which lead to fatigue. Individuals tend to be weak and start to lose appetite. In some cases, restlessness also manifests and even though they are tired, they could not get enough sleep.
• Pale or yellowish skin – When it comes to mothball poisoning, the red blood cell count diminishes. As a result, the skin can become pale or look unhealthy in mild cases. In severe cases, the skin exudes a yellowish color and waxy in appearance. It is best to consult a doctor or call the poison control center if an unhealthy complexion is exhibited.
• Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea – As the body tries to eliminate the poison through vomiting or diarrhea, it is actually a good thing since it removes the mothballs out of the body before causing more damage. The only concern with vomiting and diarrhea is dehydration. As a first aid measure, it is important to provide the individual with adequate water in small yet steady doses or allow him/her to suck on ice chips.
• Breathing problems – Mothballs generate fumes that kill the moths which can cause problems if inhaled in high doses. The individual can develop a cough or has breathing difficulties. You can check the nose or throat for swelling, redness or irritation while the eyes can be red or bloodshot.
• Liver and kidney damage – Prolonged exposure to mothballs can lead to hemolytic anemia which is the serious breakdown of red blood cells. This is considered dangerous to the elderly and children. It is important to consult a doctor so that the liver and kidney are checked for damage. If there is sign of poisoning, the necessary steps should be taken to remove the mothballs from the environment.
What to do before calling emergency assistance
Before you will call for emergency assistance, you have to determine the following information:
• Age, weight and condition of the individual
• Name of the product (components and strengths)
• Amount swallowed
• Time swallowed
In case you suspect possible poisoning, it is important to seek emergency medical care right away. You should also call the poison control center so that experts are on the line for further instructions. It is also best to bring the container once you go to the hospital if possible.
What to expect at the emergency room
Once you arrive at the emergency room, the medical team will measure and monitor the vital signs of the individual including the pulse, temperature, breathing and blood pressure. The symptoms are treated appropriately.
Urine and blood tests are also performed. Individuals who have eaten several mothballs that contain naphthalene might be forced to vomit. Other treatments typically include:
• Activated charcoal
• Intravenous fluids
• Blood transfusion in rare cases
• Methylene blue if methemoglobinemia is present
Take note that it will take several weeks or longer for the individual to recover from the poisonous effects of mothballs. If the individual has convulsion and coma, the outlook is not good.