Every year, there are more than three million toxic ingestions in North America – and more than half occur in kids younger than 6. The drugs often come from bottles that were only “out” long enough for an adult to take a pill. Or fell out of the pocket of a visitor, or was found on the floor of a hotel. Here are a few common meds that are toxic to kids:
•Pain meds are the #1 cause of medication fatalities in kids younger than 6. That includes aspirin, acetaminophen, Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin. The liquid versions are even more toxic. Symptoms include nausea, sweating, vomiting, lethargy, swelling of the brain, coma, lack of breathing and death. Even half a tablet – or less than one teaspoon – can be fatal.
•Also, beware of camphor rubs, like Ben-Gay, Tiger Balm and Vicks VapoRub. In a child, they can cause hyperactivity, seizures, delirium, coma and death. You’d think it would be too smelly to eat, but more than 10,000 kids do every year. Symptoms can start in as little as 10 minutes, and even one teaspoon can be lethal. Don’t wait for symptoms – the faster you call 911, the better their chances for survival.
•Finally, beware of eye drops, nasal sprays and topical blood pressure patches. Toddlers have been known to drink from the bottles, or lick discarded patches. It can take four hours for symptoms, but can lead to lethargy, coma and death.
If you even think your child ingested any kind of medicine, call 911 immediately, and give the bottle to paramedics or ER personnel so they know what they’re dealing with.
Sources: Allison Muller, director of the Poison Control Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; John Tesh, Intelligence for Your Life – http://www.tesh.com