Foxglove

Alternative names
Willow-Leaved Foxglove; Revebjelle

Definition
Poisoning in children occurs from sucking the flowers or eating the seeds, stems, and/or leaves. In adults it usually results from overdosing of any of the digitalis glycosides (digitoxin, deslanoside, and digoxin).

Poisonous Ingredient

     
  • deslanoside  
  • digitoxin  
  • digoxin  
  • digitalis glycosides

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.

Where Found

     
  • Flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the foxglove plant.

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.

Symptoms

     
  • body as a whole       o weakness       o headache       o depression       o hallucinations *  
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o blurred vision       o halos around objects (yellow, green, white) *  
  • skin       o rash       o hives  
  • gastrointestinal       o loss of appetite *       o vomiting or nausea       o abdominal pain (lower stomach)       o diarrhea  
  • heart and blood vessels       o irregular or slow heartbeat       o low blood pressure  
  • nervous system       o drowsiness       o confusion       o depression *       o headache       o fainting       o lethargy       o disorientation

* Usually only seen in chronic overdose cases

Home Treatment
Call Poison Control.

Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:

     
  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • the name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known) or plant  
  • the time it was swallowed  
  • the amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Take the container or plant with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

     
  • induce vomiting  
  • use gastric lavage  
  • administer activated charcoal  
  • monitor vital signs (blood pressure, pulse, and so forth)  
  • monitor EKG (monitors heart function)  
  • blood samples drawn to determine digitalis levels, as well as magnesium and potassium levels  
  • administration of antidote and other medication to correct problems resulting from the overdose if needed  
  • correction of electrolyte (potassium, magnesium) imbalances

Expectations (prognosis)
The prognosis (probable outcome):
If the individual survives the first 24 hours their chances of survival are very good.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Janet G. Derge, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.