Overview on scombroid poisoning

Fact Checked

Scombroid poisoning is defined as a condition that arises after ingestion of contaminated food. Once poisoning occurs, bacteria has thrived due to incorrect storing of fish meat and the release of the scombroid toxin.

Scombroid toxin is a mix of histamine and other similar chemicals. Take note that the toxin does not take effect on all those who ingest it. Cooking can eliminate the bacteria, but the toxins might remain in the tissues and might be absorbed after the food has been ingested.

What are the signs?

The signs of scombroid poisoning typically start rapidly, usually within 30 minutes up to an hour of ingesting the poison.

The usual signs include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Flushing
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
    scombroid poisoning
    The signs of scombroid poisoning typically start rapidly, usually within 30 minutes up to an hour of ingesting the poison.
  • Headache

Other signs that might arise include:

  • Hives
  • Itchiness
  • Fever
  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Unusual pound sensation in the chest

In severe cases, it includes a racing heart rate, wheezing and low blood pressure. The signs typically last for up to 3 hours, but some continue to experience discomfort for a few days.

Management of scombroid poisoning

In most cases, induced vomiting is suggested to help get rid of the poison if the victim is awake and alert or recently eaten the fish in the past 3 hours.

Oral charcoal can be given in some individuals after consumption of large amounts of food that might include considerable amounts of the scombroid poison.

Some doctors might suggest pumping of the stomach to eliminate foods before charcoal is given. In addition, the individual is given intravenous fluids due to the risk for dehydration from vomiting.

Scombroid poisoning can be managed with diphenhydramine that is taken orally or intravenously along with ranitidine to lessen to stop the symptoms.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on scombroid poisoning is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the indications of this type of poisoning and how it is managed, register for a first aid and CPR course with Mississauga First Aid.

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