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Philodendron poisoning

Philodendron is a flowering houseplant. Philodendron poisoning occurs when someone eats pieces of this plant.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Poisonous Ingredient

  • Calcium oxalate

Symptoms

  • Burning and painful eyes
  • Burning in mouth and throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritated skin
  • Nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Swelling of mouth
  • Swelling of tongue
  • Vomiting

Blistering and swelling in the mouth may be severe enough to prevent normal speaking and swallowing.

Home Care

Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.

If the chemical was swallowed, immediately give the person water or milk, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. Do NOT give water or milk if the patient is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.

Wipe out the mouth with a cold, wet cloth. Wash off any plant sap from the skin and eyes.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following information:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • Name and part of plant swallowed
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

Poison Control

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

See: Poison control center - emergency number

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

The health care provider will measure and monitor your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. For severe reactions, the patient may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Breathing support
  • Fluids by IV (through the vein)
  • Medications to treat symptoms
  • Laxatives
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well you do depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

Prevention

Do not touch or eat any plant with which you are not familiar. Wash your hands after working in the garden or walking in the woods.

References

Graeme, KA. Toxic plant ingestions. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2011:chap 64.

Update Date: 10/21/2013

Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

MedlinePlus Topics

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