Nontoxic Ingestion: Care Instructions

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You swallowed something that is not a poison, or toxin. In most cases this will not cause problems.

Your body will pass what you ate or drank. Drinking plenty of fluids and eating foods with fiber will help.

Liquid charcoal may be given to a person who has swallowed a nontoxic substance. If you were treated with liquid charcoal, expect your stools to be black for a couple of days. The doctor may give you instructions for how to treat other side effects of charcoal, such as nausea and constipation.

The doctor has checked you carefully. But problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Follow your doctor's instructions about closely watching your health and behavior.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your diet each day. These foods are high in fiber.
  • If your doctor tells you to, take a fiber supplement, such as Citrucel or Metamucil, every day if needed. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • If liquid charcoal causes constipation, talk to your doctor about how to treat it.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You are confused or can't think clearly.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.