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Overdose

Definition

An overdose is when you take more than the normal or recommended amount of something, usually a drug. An overdose may result in serious, harmful symptoms or death.

If you take too much of something on purpose, it is called an intentional or deliberate overdose.

If the overdose happens by mistake, it is called an accidental overdose. For example, a young child may accidentally take an adult's heart medication.

Your doctor may refer to an overdose as an ingestion. Ingestion means you swallowed something.

An overdose is not the same as a poisoning, although the effects can be the same. Poisoning occurs when someone or something (such as the environment) exposes you to dangerous chemicals, plants, or other harmful substance without your knowledge.

Information

An overdose may be mild, moderate, or serious. Symptoms, treatment, and recovery depend on the specific drug involved.

In theUnited States, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak with a local poison control center. This hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will giveyou further instructions.

References

Kulig K. General approach to the poisoned patient. In: Marx J, ed. . 6th ed. St Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2006:chap 145.

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    Encyclopedia content is provided as information only and not intended to replace the advice and instruction from your personal physician.