Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Dangers of Ingesting Dragon’s Breath

Dragon’s Breath is a sweet treat that is made of a cereal or puff that is then dipped in liquid nitrogen. What makes it so alluring to kids is that the person eating this treat will have a smoke-looking substance come out of their mouth “like a dragon”. While it might sound like a fun item to eat, it can have potential dangers.

In New Jersey, there was a case involving a female who had to go to the hospital emergency room after ingesting two Dragon’s Breath puffs. The patient suffered from severe acid reflux.

What are the potential dangers of Dragon’s Breath, also known as Heaven’s Breath and Nitro puff?

While some frozen drinks and foods may contain traces of liquid nitrogen, it usually evaporates before individuals consume the item, making it harmless. But when liquid nitrogen is provided on a food or drink item right before it is consumed, it can lead to serious injuries similar to frostbite in the mouth and internal organs.

It can also cause (in more detail):

·         Hazards to skin, lips, tongue, gums, teeth, inside of mouth and throat.

·         People with asthma can suffer from an asthma attack from the extreme temperature change in the air they are breathing.

·         If you swallow a piece of the cereal infused with liquid nitrogen you could cause burns to your esophagus and GI tract.

·         Handling liquid nitrogen can cause burns if not handled properly.

·         Inhaling liquid nitrogen vapors is NOT recommended.

The FDA claims that serious injury can result from consumption of products with liquid nitrogen infused at the point of sale. For more on this visit: https://www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/SafetyAlertsAdvisories/ucm618058.htm. Contact the your local poison center in Texas if you think you might have come in contact with liquid nitrogen and had an adverse reaction. Poison information specialists are available via 1-800-222-1222 anytime of any day, at no cost.

Friday, October 26, 2018

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is October 27th!

Do you have unused or expired medications sitting in cabinets collecting dust? Did you know that holding onto expired medications can be harmful?  Remember that all medications have an expiration date.  Not only should they not be used once expired, but if not disposed of properly, they have the potential to be misused and cause harm or poisoning. Now is the time to focus on cleaning out our medicine cabinets to get rid of all of unneeded and expired medications.

The National Prescription Take Back Day aims to provide a convenient and safe way to responsibly dispose of prescription medications, while also educating the public on the potential misuse of certain medications.

On October 27th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is sponsoring a nation-wide drug take-back and in Texas, the Texas Poison Center Network is helping out in each of their regions. The National Prescription Drug Take-Back initiative addresses an important public safety and health issue. Prescription drugs that sit in medicine cabinets for a long period of time tend to be susceptible to misuse or accidental poisoning.
In the U.S. alone, prescription drug misuse is extremely high. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.2 million Americans misuse controlled prescription drugs. Sadly, many misused prescription drugs were obtained from family or friends right out of their medicine cabinet. The DEA’s effort provides an opportunity for Americans to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths.

By turning in unused and expired medications, you can help too! Remember, medications should not be flushed down the toilet, unless it is indicated on the label, because they can affect the clean water supply. Instead of throwing unwanted or unneeded medications in the trash (where kids or others could get them) or flushing them down the toilet (where it could contaminate the water), head to your nearest medication take-back location and turn them in.
By providing a drug take-back day, people have the opportunity to dispose of medications in an environmentally responsible and safe way. You will be doing yourself, your family, and your community a great service!  For more information on this initiative or to find a collection site near you, please visit https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html.

You can also call your poison center at 1-800-222-1222 to obtain more information on safe medication disposal and storage or additional events in your area. 

Spanish version: https://youtu.be/FY1Jd1gyZ00

Monday, September 10, 2018

Another Challenge NOT Worth Participating In: The “Fire Challenge”

Recently a new challenge not worth partaking in has been making the rounds on social media called the “fire challenge”. While this challenge is not technically new, since it dates back to 2014, it is starting to make its rounds again.

The challenge consists of individuals pouring a small amount of rubbing alcohol on their bodies and then lighting it on fire, all the while filming the entire event to share on social media channels. Once this happens, the idea is to then quickly extinguish the flames with water.
In late August, a 12-year-old girl from Detroit attempted this challenge and landed herself in the intensive care unit. She lost control of the fire and became engulfed in flames, leaving her with second and third-degree burns covering almost half of her body. She will need multiple surgeries to recover!  This is why the Texas Poison Control Network is urging teens not to participate in this challenge.

This is a dangerous challenge that can cause lifelong effects. Nothing is worth trying to get more followers on social media. Please think safety first!

How to Treat a Thermal Burn

Here are some things you can do at home that can help alleviate pain, discomfort and healing for thermal burns!

·         If you are on fire in any way, put the fire out with water, a fire extinguisher, or with a blanket/tarp.   If your clothes caught fire, remove them immediately.

·         Run affected area under cool water or immerse the burned area in cool water.

·         Cover the area with a sterile, non-adhesive bandage or clean cloth. It is best not to apply ointments due to the possibility of infections.

·         To treat pain, take an over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or naproxen.  Make sure you follow the dosing chart on the medication.

·         If you see signs of redness, swelling, oozing, get a fever or the pain increases, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact poison control for additional information at 1-800-222-1222 or visit our website at www.poisoncontrol.org.

Monday, August 20, 2018

TPCN Spotlight Blog: North Texas SPI Tiffani Dorman

Hello everyone!!! It’s me Tiffani!!! Well, here is goes….I was born and raised in Pontiac, MI. I moved to Texas at 20 years old and have been here 13 years!!!!   It took me a while to get use to Dallas. Honestly, I think I just became a little more country. HA!

Some of the things I really enjoy are travel, hanging out with my family and friends, brunch (I’m a foodie!), going to church and Christian events. I love to try new things within reason (not trying to die! lol). I also really enjoy the ballet, R&B music, some rap, worship, and gospel music.
My friends think I’m funny, probably because I tend tell the truth without a filter and I add a little drama. The truth can be a bit funny!

 Here is my most memorable nursing story: A homeless middle aged AA gentleman with HTN was unable read. We spent a great deal of time creating symbols to put on his bottles to help him be compliant. Time with him meant a lot.
Here is my craziest nursing moment: A patient literally stood up, pulled down his pants and pooped in the chair while I was getting his vital signs. And this was no small amount of poop either! Yuck!

The things we deal with every day can be incredible grueling tasks, but in the end it is all worth it to make a difference in someone's life!

Monday, July 23, 2018

TPCN Spotlight: Veronica Stoller, South Texas Poison Center Director

1.  Tell me your history with poison control. How long have you worked there/what is your background:

I have been with the South Texas Poison Center since early 2018.  Before this appointment I was working with the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.   I have been working in various operations and administration roles in the public and private sector for the last 20 years. I am excited to be a part of the Texas Poison Control Network.

2.  What do you think is one of the most important aspects of poison control services?

The most important aspect of the poison control service is a role that specialists in poison information (SPI) play as direct service providers in emergency situations.  Through poison centers the public has access to our experienced and knowledgeable healthcare practitioners.  Our team of SPIs offer poison prevention and treatment advice in English and Spanish.

3.  What do you enjoy most about your job and why?

I enjoy my job because I am making a difference in someone’s life every day.  I have the privilege of working with a great team to achieve the mission of the South Texas Poison Center (STPC) and the Texas Poison Control Network (TPCN). As a team, we serve thousands of people a year with a strong service commitment and dedication to the community. My role is to ensure that service operations of the center are efficient and effective. I have a unique opportunity to guide the organization and provide a vision for the future by creating strategies and infrastructures. 

4. What do you think the public needs to know regarding poison control?

I think the public needs to know that the poison centers are staffed with certified medical practitioners.  The value that their knowledge and experience brings to the center is significant.  I would also like them to know that our teams truly get invested in every call and ensuring the communication of accurate healthcare information to improve the outcomes in each specific case.

5.  Share a funny story here that might have happened on the job.

As a new Director there have been plenty of funny and frustrating first experiences. The most recent happened when I was scheduled to attend my first CSEC meeting in Austin.  I had my directions and parking information on hand.  I timed my travel to ensure that I would arrive on time. Once I arrived to the CSEC building I could not find the parking garage and did not have much time to spare.  I called the office they reiterated the directions but I still could not locate the parking area. After a few times (estimating about 4 times) around the building, I finally saw the entrance.  If you have never visited the building, the entrance to the parking garage actually slopes down underneath the building but it is masked by the public sidewalk. There is no garage entrance sign as one would expect.  Needless to say, I parked, made my way up to the offices and with only a few minutes to spare-another crisis averted!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Beware of Rattlesnakes this Time of Year!

The Texas summer heat is in full effect, and it is important to be aware of snakes in rural and wildlife areas, and particularly rattlesnakes. Since many people enjoy hiking, biking and other outdoor activities during the summer months, there is an increased chance of running into rattlesnakes.

Encountering a rattlesnake in the wild can be a scary experience, but it is important to stay calm and give the snake plenty of space. You want to make sure there are at least five feet between you and the snake at all times.  While rattlesnakes are venomous, the good news is that if you leave it alone, it will most likely leave you alone too. If you have children or pets with you when you come in contact with a snake, make sure to protect them by keeping them as far away from it as possible.

Recently, people have found rattlesnakes in their backyards hiding under shrubs, piles of debris and anything else they can easily hide under. While it might be tempting to get close to the snake to get a better look or even try to kill it, it is better to give it space and leave it alone.  Approaching a snake will only increase your chances of getting bitten.  Contact a professional to remove the snake if it’s in your property. It is important to remind the professional when they come out to remove the snake to also to check the rest of your yard for other snakes, just to make sure.

If you get bitten by a rattlesnake, call 911 or get to a hospital right away! Call poison control while help arrives or while on your way to the hospital at 1-800-222-1222. 

Initial symptoms may include:

      Bloody discharge from wound


      Progressive swelling starting at the bite sites

      Burning and redness

      Dizziness and/or blurred vision

      Nausea and vomiting


      Fainting or convulsions


Don’t wait for symptoms to show up, get help right away! 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Beware of Toxic Algal Blooms While at Lakes or Rivers this Summer

Harmful algal blooms, also known as blue-green algae, which are polluting lakes, rivers and swimming holes throughout the U.S, are a growing problem- here in Texas as well. Usually algal blooms are easy to spot as they turn water smelly and slimy, so most of the time parents should be able to determine if the water looks safe to let children or pets play in it. Below is some information that can help you you’re your family safe this summer:

It can sometimes be difficult to identify algal blooms just by looking at a pond, river, or lake. Scientists and public health officials use specialized tests to identify these harmful algal blooms, and to determine when the risk of algal toxins has passed.
If the water looks like some type of green soup, it is most likely full of this nasty bacteria. This blue - green algae is an ancient organism that is a type of bacteria called cyanobacteria, which can grow wherever there is water.  This bacteria containing cyanobacteria can make people sick through the toxic substances they produce.

These cyanotoxins can cause:

·         Rashes
·         Itching
·         Vomiting
·         Diarrhea and headaches
·         And, in rare cases, can cause seizures, paralysis and liver failure, which can be deadly

Such severe poisonings are rare, but children are most at risk. Even if they don’t swim in the contaminated water, children are especially vulnerable to cyanotoxins. Children could potentially inhale cyanotoxins when playing along the shoreline, boating or by splashing water. Small children are known to put their hands in their mouth after touching just about anything, including this contaminated water. Teens should also be made aware of this as they aren’t always careful about where they swim.   

Symptoms can develop within hours of exposure. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you or your child has been exposed to a harmful algal bloom. Physicians can report algal poisoning events to state agencies that test water and post warning signs. Keep in mind, harmful algal blooms aren’t just a problem in freshwater – they can also be found in salt water and brackish water.

So be careful out there this summer and if you come in contact with anything poisonous, please contact the Texas Poison Network at 1-800-222-1222.

TIP!  Read and follow any posted warnings. If the lake or pond looks green or another strong color such as blue, yellow or brown, it should most likely be avoided. The water could contain harmful cyanotoxins.