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When to Visit a Doctor for Chemical Exposure

Chemicals are part of everyday life. Some people encounter them at work. But there are dangerous chemicals found at home, too. These include:

  • Aerosol cans, such as deodorants and hair sprays
  • Automotive products, such as oil and antifreeze
  • Batteries
  • Cleaning products
  • Furniture polishes
  • Mercury found in thermometers
  • Nail polish and remover
  • Pesticides

Exposure to these chemicals can lead to health complications and even death.

How Chemical Exposure Happens

There are several ways chemical exposures can occur. That depends on the type of material and how they can come into contact with people. Some chemicals are harmful when ingested or get inside the body. Skin contact could also have damaging effects, depending on the substance.

Symptoms of Chemical Exposure

The challenge with chemical exposure is that the symptoms can develop immediately or hours after the incident, which makes it difficult to identify the material that caused it. Symptoms vary depending on the substance and exposure rate. That information is important for chemical exposure treatment.

Symptoms for mild cases include:

  • Blurring of vision
  • Burning sensation on the eyes
  • Excessive sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Itchy or burning throat, nose or skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach aches
  • Tightening of the chest
  • Watery eyes

The mild symptoms usually go away once exposure goes away. However, continued contact can lead to more severe symptoms:

  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Collapsing on the spot
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath

Some substances are strong enough to cause fatalities without immediate medical care.

First Aid for Chemical Exposure

The initial chemical exposure treatment is to get the victim away from it as soon as possible, without placing other people in danger. The longer a person is exposed to dangerous chemicals, the worse the effects will become.

Next is to cleanse the affected area with soap and water. Remove any contaminated clothing and get fresh air to clear the lungs.

Chemical exposure can only move from one person to another through clothing and direct contact.

Preventing Chemical Exposure

The best way to prevent chemical exposure is to follow guidelines and procedures. Your workplace should have training materials available for handling chemicals and other dangerous substances.

In regards to chemicals at home, keep them out of reach of children. Read the directions on how to use and store them properly.

Get Chemical Exposure Treatment at UF Health

Accidents can happen at anytime. In case you or someone else is exposed to dangerous chemicals and shows severe symptoms, go to a medical facility right away. UF Health has three Emergency & Urgent Care Centers in Jacksonville, Fla., equipped to help in this situation. You can visit or contact us 24/7.