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CNS drugs 

CNS drugs
Chapter:
CNS drugs
Author(s):

D Nicholas Bateman

, Robert D Jefferson

, Simon HL Thomas

, John P Thompson

, and J Allister Vale

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199594740.003.0004
Page of

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date: 22 August 2019

This chapter addresses poisoningwith drugs acting on the central nervous system (CNS). A substantial proportion of poisoned patients have psychiatric disease for which the drugs have been prescribed. Anticonvulsants have a wide range of toxicities, reflecting their different mechanisms of action. Easy over-the-counter availability of other types of drug also contributes, for example, antihistamines for the management of allergic disorders and as hypnotics. Of the centrally acting drugs, tricyclic antidepressants are particularly hazardous in acute overdose, causing convulsions and cardiac arrhythmias as well as depression of respiration and cardiovascular collapse. Traditional antipsychotic drugs act on a large number of pharmacological receptors, causing complex toxicity. Lithium commonly causes poisoning in two ways, from acute overdose and from chronic accumulation. Benzodiazepines rarely cause death when ingested alone, however they are hazardous when co-ingested with other CNS depressants, particularly opiates. New non-benzodiazepine hypnotics and their toxicity is similar to that of benzodiazepines.

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