Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Get Your Poison Educational Materials Just in Time for Poison Prevention Week 2015!

National Poison Prevention Week falls during the third full week of March which marks a great time to get educated on preventing poisons. Congress established National Poison Prevention Week in 1961 to help raise awareness, reduce unintentional poisonings and promote poison prevention.

A poison is considered any substance, including medications, which can be harmful to your body if too much is ingested, inhaled, injected or absorbed through the skin. An accidental poisoning occurs when a person unintentionally takes too much of a substance and does not mean to cause harm.

The Texas Poison Center Network (TPCN) wants to help spread awareness and remind the community to contact a poison center in the event of a possible poisoning. Throughout the third week of March, educators all over the country will be holding educational activities to help promote awareness about poison control services.

The TPCN provides educational materials for ordering and you can do it directly from their website so here’s your chance to get educated!

If you are located in Texas, please visit www.poisoncontrol.org where you can order poison prevention pamphlets such as:

           Poison Prevention Guide

           Poison Safety Tips for Baby’s First Year

           Bites and Stings

           Poisonous Plants

           Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

In the event that you or someone with you has been poisoned, first remain calm. Then call the toll-free Poison Help line immediately at 1-800-222-1222 and get connected to your local poison center. Peace of mind and help when you need it is just a phone call away.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Dangers of Unregulated Herbal Supplements

If you have been watching the news, you have seen the many stories covering recent herbal supplement findings. These findings include well-known herbal products that do not contain the herbs they claim to include and, alarmingly, some of these supplements contain wheat when they state that they are gluten-free. Many of these store-brand supplements are sold in national retail stores such as Target, Walgreens, GNC, and Walmart.  

Consumers should be aware that herbal supplements are not subject to the same standards for safety as medications here in the U.S.  That means that they are not regulated by the FDA or any other regulatory entity for that matter. If you choose to take herbal supplements, please be cautious.

One example of a misleading supplement is a store-brand ginkgo biloba tablet that might not actually contain what is listed on the label.   Instead that supplement could contain wheat, mustard, radish, and/or other ingredients that would not be considered of herbal nature that are not listed on the label. This information was brought to light when the New York State attorney’s office conducted an investigation into some store-brand supplements.

If you have taken an herbal supplement and had an adverse reaction or are simply concerned about the ingredients, please do not hesitate to contact the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222.
 
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Friday, January 23, 2015

E-Cigarettes and Children: A Dangerous Combination

A while back, we ran a blog on the dangers of e-cigarettes, but with this issue being a very hot topic in the news currently, we felt it was important to address the issues regarding liquid nicotine. This past December, a one-year-old in New York died after swallowing liquid nicotine which has lawmakers now pushing for stricter regulation on e-cigarettes and how they are made.

E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are designed to look like real cigarettes except they contain a battery, a heating element and liquid nicotine. These products were initially marketed as a safer alternative to smoking actual cigarettes. But they can be just as dangerous, if not more, if the liquid nicotine is swallowed.  
Nicotine is a poisonous chemical that can be found in the tobacco plant. It causes symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, shakiness, elevated heart rate, and sweating. Nicotine poisoning can even cause death. If a child were to ingest this liquid nicotine, even in very small quantities, it could potentially cause seizures and even death.  This product is very dangerous for children.

Even more alarming, a recent article on NPR states that the vapor produced by e-cigarettes can contain high concentrations of formaldehyde which is a known carcinogen. You read more here:  http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/01/21/378663944/e-cigarettes-can-churn-out-high-levels-of-formaldehyde

Here are some tips to keep your home safe from possible nicotine poisoning.
  • Keep all and any nicotine products up and far away from children’s reach.
  • Liquid nicotine should be kept locked up or completely out of the home if children.
  • Keep products in their original containers.
 
If you or a loved one has accidently ingested liquid nicotine or spilled some on your skin, please do not hesitate to contact the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222. Expert nurses and toxicologists are available 24/7- when you need them the most. Hablamos Español.

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Year’s Resolutions: Keep them Safe and Poison Free

One of the biggest New Year’s resolutions that people have is to lose weight in the New Year. It’s so tempting to either drink something or swallow a pill that will melt the fat away.  However, we need to be aware of several products that may pose some health risks.

Below is a list of some of the most popular forms of losing weight and why they might not be the best choice. Remember, exercise and eating right is the healthiest way to lose weight- there are no quick fixes!
Weight Loss Supplements
Most of these supplements boast about losing weight fast and curbing your appetite. While it might be appealing to a consumer, many times these advertising techniques are untrue. Many supplement companies are not held to any standards so there is no way to know if what you are taking is safe or effective. Some products even claim to be natural but that still does not mean they are safe to take. If you are looking to lose weight, please talk with your doctor or healthcare practitioner first.

Cleanse and Detox Plans
These products state they help you lose weight quickly. But in reality, the weight loss comes from water and stool weight. These cleanses can also be dangerous to your health. They could cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Acai
The acai berry is grown in the Amazon River basin of Brazil.  It is rich in antioxidants.  It also contains iron, calcium, vitamin A and fiber.  Food and beverages are made from the skin, which is only 5% of the berry.  This makes acai products expensive.  Blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are less expensive alternatives.  The research evidence connecting acai and weight loss is lacking.
See:  www.webmd.com/diet/features/acai-weight-loss-wonder-fruit

Herbal Teas
Some teas promoted for dieting contain laxatives.  Excessive use may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fainting and dehydration.  Causing diarrhea to reduce calorie absorption is not very effective.  Most of the calorie absorption occurs in the small intestine, but laxatives tend to work on the colon.  A temporary weight loss due to water loss will be reversed once the person drinks something.  Bulk-producing agents are supposed to give a sense of fullness, but there is no evidence that they reduce appetite.

The Facts on Diet Pills

The FDA now lists more than 70 weight loss products that may be harmful and contain undeclared, active pharmaceutical ingredients that include fenproporex, fluoxetine, furosemide, cetilistat, sibutramine, bumetanide, phenytoin and phenolphthalein. Some of these ingredients are not approved for marketing in the United States. Some are prescription drugs that exceed the maximum recommended dosages.  Seizures, heart attacks and strokes are possible.  Beware of claims and have realistic expectations.
 
Here are three fast, easy New Year's resolutions if you have young children. 1) Get down on the floor at your children's eye level. Find things that can hurt them: dropped pills, batteries, and toy parts; household products in low cabinets ... and get those things up, out of the way. 2) Program our number into your phones. 3) Post the poison center phone number by every phone in your home. Need phone stickers or magnets? Call us at 1-800-222-1222 or go to www.poisoncontrol.org.
If you have any questions about your medications, herbals or dietary supplements, please call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Don't guess, be sure! A medical professional will answer your call right away and give you the help you need.



Monday, December 29, 2014

Holiday Toys and the Dangers of Button Batteries

Button batteries can be found in a variety of electronic devices including many toys that children receive during the holidays. Things like wristwatches, calculators, toys and even recorded Christmas cards all use button batteries. Unfortunately, their small size means that they can be easily swallowed by children. 

The Texas Poison Center Network wants you to know that button batteries are the most harmful type of battery for young children if swallowed. They can get stuck in the esophagus, leading to serious injury and is the leading cause of death by ingestion. Poison control centers across the United States report that about 3,500 button batteries are swallowed each year.
The symptoms of battery ingestion include vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and swallowing. Many times, swallowed batteries pass through the intestines and safely exit the body. This is not always the case, however, as they can easily get lodged in the esophagus.

Batteries stuck in the throat cause an electric current and can leak corrosive chemicals, like alkaline electrolyte, that can cause internal damage. When this happens, a buildup of the chemical hydroxide may occur, causing dangerous burns within a couple of hours. Unfortunately, the damage caused can continue long after the battery is removed.

If your child ingests a battery, this is what you should do:

·         Immediately call your poison center at 1-(800)-222-1222.

·         Dial 9-1-1 immediately if someone
  • Stops breathing. 
  • Collapses. 
  • Has a seizure.

·        Don't induce vomiting

Swallowing batteries can be dangerous. Search your home for devices that may contain button batteries. Secure button battery-controlled devices out of reach of children and keep loose batteries locked away.
For more information, call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222. Poison centers are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year for poisoning emergencies and for informational calls, too.

 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter Poison Safety Holiday Tips from the Texas Poison Center Network

Brrrr….the weather is getting colder and holiday festivities are alive and well. This time of year brings lots of joy, but it can also bring nausea, vomiting or other bodily reactions if you aren’t careful. The Texas Poison Center Network wants to help you avoid any unintentional poisonings this time of year, so please check out our holiday poison safety tips below!

Food Safety

·         Most important: Wash Your Hands! Whenever you are preparing food, it is so important to wash your hands before, during and after to prevent food poisoning.

·         Make sure to cook food well to reduce potential poisoning- poultry-180 degrees F, beef-160 degrees F and pork-160 degrees F.  Cover and reheat leftovers to 165 degrees F before serving.

·         Keep foods that need to be cold or hot at the right temperature. If food is left out at room temperature for more than two hours, bacteria can grow and sickness can ensue.

·         Never use unvented fuel-burning devices in a home or apartment.CO poisoning can occur. Read our blog on CO poison safety here.

·         Remember, contaminated food is not always obvious. If you are unsure if an item is still ok to eat, it is probably best to throw it out. Safety first!

Potentially Dangerous Décor
Tree Ornaments: Some ornaments are made of very thin metal or glass. If a child were to ingest part of an ornament, it could potentially cause choking or worse. Practice safety first when choosing ornaments to use on your tree with little ones in the home.

Gift Wrap: Overall, gift wrapping paper is pretty safe. But it is possible for some colored gift wrap or foil to contain lead. Don’t let babies chew on paper as a precaution.

Holiday Plants
Poinsettia: While these plants are a holiday favorite, ingesting very large amounts of this plant might cause a mild stomach ache. The sap on the plant can also cause a skin rash, so when handling these plants, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.

Holly berries: While these berries are visually appealing, if ingested they can cause a stomach ache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Keep these berries out of reach of children.

Mistletoe: If this plant is ingested, it will leave you feeling pretty terrible as the plant does contain toxic substances. Common symptoms of poisoning from this plant include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach ache.

Remember, as always, if you or someone you know has been potentially poisoned, please do not hesitate to contact the Poison Control hotline at 1-800-222-1222. We hope everyone has a safe holiday season!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: Tips to Keep You Safe

Make sure you have a CO Detector
Each year in America, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning claims more than 500 lives and sends roughly 40,000 people to hospital emergency rooms for treatment. While these numbers are scary, there are ways to prevent CO poisoning.

So as the weather turns chilly throughout much of the country, the Texas Poison Center Network wants to remind everyone to have a professional inspection of all fuel-burning heating systems - including furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, water heaters and space heaters - to detect any potentially deadly carbon monoxide (CO) leaks in your home.

Did you know that under certain conditions, all appliances that burn fuels can leak deadly CO? These fuels include kerosene; oil; coal; both natural and liquefied petroleum gas; and wood. By having a professional inspection of your fuel-burning heating appliances, you will be ahead of the game in protecting your family from the silent killer, CO poisoning.

Make sure the professional inspection includes checking chimneys, flues and vents for leakage and blockage by debris. Birds, other animals and insects sometimes can nest in vents and block exhaust gases, causing the gases to enter the home. In addition, all vents to furnaces, water heaters, boilers and other fuel-burning heating appliances should be checked to make sure they are not loose or disconnected.

WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue.


 
PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY FROM CO POISONING
 
  • Install at least one UL (Underwriters Laboratories) listed carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal near the sleeping areas and outside individual bedrooms. Carbon monoxide alarms measure levels of CO over time and are designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms. It is very possible that you may not be experiencing symptoms when you hear the alarm. This does not mean that CO is not present.
  • Never use your range or oven to help heat your home and never use a charcoal grill or hibachi in your home or garage.
  • Never keep a car running in a garage. Even if the garage doors are open, normal circulation will not provide enough fresh air to reliably prevent a dangerous buildup of CO.
  • When purchasing an existing home, have a qualified technician evaluate the integrity of the heating and cooking systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage and house.

WHAT ACTIONS DO I TAKE IF MY CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM GOES OFF?

If no one is feeling ill:
1.      Silence the alarm.

2.      Turn off all appliances and sources of combustion (i.e. furnace and fireplace).
3.      Ventilate the house with fresh air by opening doors and windows.
4.      Call a qualified professional to investigate the source of the possible CO buildup.

If illness is a factor:
1.      Evacuate all occupants immediately.

2.      Determine how many occupants are ill and determine their symptoms.
3.      Call 9-1-1 and when relaying information to the dispatcher, include the number of people feeling ill.
4.      Do not re-enter the home without the approval of a fire department representative.
5.      Call a qualified professional to repair the source of the CO.


Here’s One Family’s Story:

In Temple on October 29th, a family sat down to eat dinner.  Their CO detector went off, so they immediately evacuated the house and called 911.  The Temple fire department responded and went through the house and tested the levels of CO.  They determined that the levels of CO in the house were so high that it could have killed or severely injured the family very quickly.  They lived in a rental property and the source was their stove….but the thing that saved them was a working CO detector.


Remember: Carbon monoxide poisoning IS preventable! Make sure to protect yourself and your family by being prepared and aware. If you think you might have carbon monoxide poisoning, please call the Poison Control Network at 1-800-222-1222. If someone is having life threatening reactions, please do not hesitate to contact 9-1-1.