Toxic Topics

A Parent’s Guide to Poison Prevention

Because of young children’s curiosity and their unique behavioral patterns (e. g., hand to mouth activity), it is not surprising that over half of the 2.4 million cases of poisonings reported to poison control centers each year involve children less than 5 years of age. Children like the attractive packaging and good smells and are drawn to the colorful substances of many of the products found around the home. Poisoning can occur at any time and in any place (e. g., your own home, while visiting relatives). And many everyday household items and medications that are often not thought of as dangerous can cause harm to a young child including: Aspirin Automatic dishwasher detergent Cigarette butts Iron Toilet bowl cleaners Some of the Most Dangerous Poisons Antifreeze Car wheel cleaner (with hydrofluoric acid) Carbon monoxide Certain medications (e.…

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Highly Concentrated “Single-Load Liquid Laundry Packets” Can Cause Serious Harm to Young Children

These new laundry packets dissolve in the washing machine. Because they are colorful and squishy, they are attractive to children. They can look like candy or something fun to play with. Poison centers receive many calls each year about children getting into laundry detergent. Swallowing it often causes mild stomach upset, if there are any symptoms at all, but poison center experts say the new highly concentrated single-load liquid laundry detergent packets seem to be different. Some children who have gotten the product in their mouths have had excessive vomiting, wheezing and gasping. Some get very sleepy. Some have had breathing problems serious enough to need a ventilator to help them breathe.…

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A Word of Caution As You Treat the Flu

What do a lot of people do when they feel achy and are running a fever? They go straight to the medicine cabinet for an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine. While OTC drugs can be helpful in controlling flu symptoms, it is easy to overdose on one very commonly available drug. Acetaminophen is often used in pain medications such as Tylenol, and is also the active ingredient in many other types of OTC drugs such as various types of Vick’s Formula44, Nyquil, Robitussin and Theraflu and many more. As a matter of fact, acetaminophen is the most common active ingredient in drugs sold in America today, being found in over 600 OTC and prescription medicines.…

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Beware of Certain Food and Medicine Interactions

Some foods just go together – peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, cake and ice cream. But did you know that taking some prescription drugs with certain foods, beverages or over-the-counter (OTC) medications could be risky, even a recipe for a severe health reaction? According to specialists with the Texas Poison Center Network, even some commonly used over-the-counter medications can turn dangerous or deadly when paired with the wrong food, drink or dietary supplement. “It’s important to be up front and honest with your doctor and pharmacist about the foods you are eating and what prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and supplements you are taking so potential interactions can be discussed and hopefully avoided,” according to poison center specialist.…

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Leaves of Three Let Them Be

As spring moves into summer, the Texas Poison Center Network begins to receive calls about poison ivy and poison oak, common summertime poisons that can cause a lot of discomfort for people enjoying the outdoors. Poison ivy and poison oak can release a substance called urushiol when the leaves or other parts of the plant are damaged or burned. Nearly 85 percent of people exposed to the oil will have an allergic reaction, and it only takes a very small amount of oil to cause a reaction. Typically there will be an itchy, red rash with bumps and blisters. Poison ivy isn’t contagious unless you spread the oil from person to person.…

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Summer Picnic Tips To Keep You and Your Family Safe from Food Poisoning

Summer is here and most of us take advantage of the warm weather to hold barbecues and picnics. Most common food related illnesses are caused by improper storage or handling of food. Depending on the kind of bacteria causing the problem, symptoms of the most common kinds of food poisoning may include one or more of the following: nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and fever. These symptoms usually develop 1 to 12 hours after eating the contaminated food. However the time it takes for some bacteria to grow to dangerous levels can be as long as 40 hours. Here are some tips to prepare, cook and properly store foods and keep harmful bacteria from making you and your family sick.…

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Using Insect Repellents Safely

Mosquitoes, biting flies, and ticks can be annoying and sometimes pose a serious risk to public health. In certain areas of the U.S., mosquitoes can transmit diseases like equine and St. Louis encephalitis. Biting flies can inflict a painful bite that can persist for days, swell, and become infected. When properly used, insect repellents can discourage biting insects from landing on treated skin or clothing. Choosing Insect Repellents Insect repellents are available in various forms and concentrations. Aerosol and pump-spray products are intended for skin applications as well as for treating clothing. Liquid, cream, lotion and stick products enable direct skin application.…

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Thinking Medication Safety As The Kids Go Back To School

Most schools will soon be back in session and for some Texas children, who take prescription medications during the day, a little extra planning is required before they head off to school or daycare. Every year the Texas Poison Center Network receives calls from schools and daycare centers about medication being found on floors, in diaper bags or being shared among students. Specialist with the Texas Poison Center Network, say “parents need to make sure they’re following school district policies before sending their kids off to class carrying prescription drugs.” It’s also important to talk with your child about how important these medications are, even if they’re sold over the counter.…

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Fall Poisonings

Fall is the season of change. The leaves begin to change colors, the temperature begins to drop, and our whole mentality begins to shift towards “the holidays.” First we have Labor Day, then Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas. All these holidays bring about a whole different type of dangers into our home. One of these dangers is Alcohol. Alcohol is common at most holiday celebrations, but we need to remember that children are at risk. Don’t leave alcoholic beverages within children’s reach – especially those mixed with soda; they are more attractive to small children. Alcohol poisoning can be fatal to children.…

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Know Your Plants

Safe or Poisonous? Each year over 100,000 people in the United States call Poison Control Centers regarding plant and mushroom exposures. Young children, and sometimes pets, will often chew and eat anything within reach no matter how it tastes. There is no easy “test” for knowing poisonous plants from those that are safe to eat. Heating and cooking do not necessarily destroy a plant or mushroom’s toxic parts. Some plants contain substances that are very irritating to the skin, mouth and tongue. Immediate burning pain is common, and sometimes stomach upset, mouth and tongue swelling or breathing problems may occur. Some plants may cause a skin rash.…

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