In the period prior to loss of consciousness, symptoms include nausea, gastric irritation and the development of moderate to severe headache. This is presumably due to a rapid drop in blood pressure. Indeed, in a report commissioned by CLW into the use of azide as a possible suicide agent, toxicologist Dr DHM Counotte discussed the benefit of taking an analgesic (pain relief drug) together with an anti-emetic (anti-nausea drug). Paracetamol or naproxin were suggested, although it is hard to see how 500mg paracetamol could ameliorate the symptoms of a significant hypotensive headache.
Dr Counotte also addressed three relevant questions:
# 1: Is sodium azide definitely deadly? Answer: Yes, sodium azide is certainly deadly. The lowest fatal dose is approximately 1 to 2 grams for people and a dose of more than 10 grams is certainly fatal.
#2: What are the side effects of sodium azide ingestion? Answer: The side effects may be (within a few minutes after ingestion): headache, perspiration, fainting, drop in blood pressure, arrhythmia, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal discharge, sore throat and shortness of breath.
#3: Can these side effects caused by azide ingestion be limited? Answer: Taking analgesics prior to the azide can help for headache and throat irritation.