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Potato plant poisoning - green tubers and sprouts
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Potato plant poisoning - green tubers and sprouts

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Solanum tuberosum poisoning

Potato plant poisoning occurs when someone eats the green tubers or new sprouts of the potato 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.

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  • Poisonous Ingredient

    Solanine (very toxic even in small amounts)

  • Where Found

    The poison is found throughout the plant, but especially in green potatoes and new sprouts. Never eat potatoes that are spoiled or green below the skin. Always throw away the sprouts.

    Potatoes that are not green and have had any sprouts removed are safe to eat.

    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.

  • Symptoms

    • Delirium
    • Diarrhea
    • Dilated pupils
    • Fever
    • Hallucinations
    • Headache
    • Loss of sensation
    • Lower than normal body temperature (hypothermia)
    • Paralysis
    • Shock
    • Slow pulse
    • Slowed breathing
    • Stomach or abdominal pain
    • Vision changes
    • Vomiting
  • 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.

  • Before Calling Emergency

    Determine the following information:

    • Patient's age, weight, and condition
    • Time it was swallowed
    • Amount swallowed
    • Name and part of plant that was swallowed
  • Poison Control What to Expect at the Emergency Room

    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

  • 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. You may receive:

    • Activated charcoal
    • Blood and urine tests
    • Breathing support
    • Chest x-ray
    • EKG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
    • Fluids through a vein (IV)
    • Medication 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.

    Symptoms may last for 1-3 days, and hospitalization may be necessary.

    Death has been reported, but is rare.

  • 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.

Related Information

     

References

Hostetler MA, Schneider SM. Poisonous plants. In: Tintinalli JE, Kelen GD, Stapczynski JS, Ma OJ, Cline DM, eds. Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 6th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004:chap 205.

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

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Review Date: 10/21/2013  

Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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