Tuesday, January 15, 2019

TPCN Spotlight Blog: North Texas SPI Joel Sherman

1)    Tell me your history with poison control and how you became a SPI.
I have only worked at Poison Control since this past September.  My background is in school nursing for the most part and it is 
policy there to contact poison control for any exposure to a potentially toxic substance that a student or teacher has been exposed to. The thing that I enjoy most about this job is learning practical information about substances that I can help people with (this also satisfies my need to be a smarty pants). I learned about the job when my fiancé stated that she and her sister had a friend who were always talking about how awesome the job is.

2)    I’m sure you hear a lot of interesting stories when answering calls, but what is one story that sticks out in your head that might have been scary but turned out funny and/or everything worked out after the call.
I once received a call where a teacher had been smearing glow stick fluids all over her face while giving her students a lecture
over toxic chemicals. I guess this is so they would remember the subject matter. She stated that she got some of the fluid in her eye and that now her face was burning. She stated she irrigated her eye earlier. I recommended washing her face with soap and water. I assume that everything worked out okay after this call because she didn’t call back complaining of worsening symptoms. I thought the call was ironic for many reasons. She read on the label that the substance was non-toxic, she was talking about toxic chemicals. Then she called Poison Control because when her face started burning she second guessed herself on the toxicity. And why would you rub it on your face if you were not 100% certain. Plus just weird.

    3)    What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for poison control?
We give advice according to the amount of information we are given. The more descriptive they can be with the situation the more we will be able to help.

    4)    What do you enjoy most about your job and why?
I enjoy learning. Everyday there is something new to learn and all of the people that I work with are great resources with a vast amount of knowledge.

5)    Why do you think it is important for people to have poison control as a resource for emergency help?
It is important for people to have poison control as a resource for emergency help because a lot of exposures do not require a medical professional to observe. These exposures when taken to the Emergency Department (ED) of the hospital are expensive for the person who was exposed, and make take up a spot in the ED that can be used for true medical emergency.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Top New Year’s Resolutions from the Texas Poison Center Network

With the new year upon us, now is the perfect time to make sure you and your family are prepared to prevent potential poisonings and keep your loved ones safe. The TPCN has compiled our top five resolutions for have a poison-free year! 
Check them out below:

1.    STAY INFORMED! Sign up for the TPCN Newsletter and the TPCN Blog- The newsletter comes only once a month to your email and it provides you with tips and tools regarding the time of year and any major timely poison related issues. The blog is bi-weekly and provides updates on newsworthy poison dangers. By receiving these and reading them, you can stay up-to-date on poison dangers and ensure you are keeping you and your loved ones healthy and safe.

2.    BE PREPARED! Save the Poison Help Number: If you do ever need to call poison control, it’s a smart idea to already have the number saved in your phone. In stressful situations it can sometimes be hard to remember numbers, so having the number saved in your phone will alleviate stress and help you get ahold of poison control quickly. Save it in your phone: 1-800-222-1222!

3.    PREVENT POISON! Clean Out Medications 
      and Other Potentially Dangerous Household Products: Now is a great time to clean out your medicine cabinet. Get rid of expired medications or any medications you no longer take or need. Once you have done that, make sure your medication is located up, away, & out of sight in a secured location. This keeps children out of medications and keeps your entire family safer.

Be sure to keep and store any household cleaners and other potential poisons in secure locations as well. These household items will also have expiration dates on them, so if they are expired, be sure to throw those away too!

4.    SHARE! Order a FREE Materials from the TPCN Website: On our website, you can order free magnets, brochures and other educational items. Make sure to at least order a magnet for your family and maybe a few extra to give to friends, neighbors or relatives to keep on their refrigerators, especially those with small children and those who are elderly. To order, visit www.poisoncontrol.org, click on “Order Materials” and input your zip code. Scroll down and you can see all the items you can order from us at no cost to help you stay informed and poison-free!

5.    TPCN Brochures: Download or order at least one of the poison control brochures to learn more about poisons from our website www.poisoncontrol.org. Brochure topics include:
·         Poison Prevention Guide
·         Bites and Stings
·         Poisonous Plants
·         Alcohol and Tobacco
·         Prescription Drug Epidemic
·         Synthetic Drugs

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Heavy Metals Found in Popular Baby Food Brands

A Consumer Reports recently discovered that heavy metals can be found in popular baby food brands. These heavy metals include lead, mercury, cadmium and inorganic arsenic. Metals being ingested can be dangerous, because it is absorbed by your body and it stays in your system longer than you’d think.

If your child has consumed contaminated baby food, the immediate effects could be minimal.  Long-term exposure to these products however, could cause many problems including developmental issues, bladder, lung, and skin cancer. These metals have been found in popular baby food brands such as Beech-Nut, Gerber & Earth’s Best.  Products such as cereals, prepared entrees, and packaged fruits and vegetables were some of the items found to contain heavy metals.

According to Consumer Reports, children in the U.S. eat quite a bit of packaged baby food. More than 90 percent of parents with children three and under use these foods. Here are some of the specific findings from the report:
·         Each product tested had measurable amounts of heavy metals.
·         Roughly 2/3 had concerning levels of heavy metals.
·         Fifteen of the food items tested pose potential health risks to a child eating these regularly.
·         Snacks with rice or sweet potatoes contained the heaviest metals.
·         Organic foods were just as likely to contain heavy metals.

While the human body needs some heavy metals to function properly, such as iron and zinc, other metals such as cadmium, inorganic arsenic, lead and mercury can be toxic for everyone but especially dangerous to young children. Exposures to these metals at a young age can lead to several health issues, including a lower IQ, behavior problems, and even autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Making changes to your child’s diet can help reduce the exposure to heavy metals. Here are some ways to do this:
·         Limit how much infant rice cereal your child consumes. Instead opt for other cereals that have iron such as oats that are lower in inorganic arsenic.
·         Be cautious of how you prep your rice! The FDA recommends 6 to 10 parts water to 1-part rice and draining the excess water. This can reduce 40 to 60 percent of the inorganic arsenic content, depending on the type of rice.
·         Limit packaged snacks because many contain rice flour or have very little nutritional value. Instead choose foods such as avocadoes, bananas, beans, cheese, applesauce, grapes, hard-boiled eggs, peaches, strawberries, and yogurt.
·         When choosing fish, stay away from swordfish, bigeye tuna, shark, king mackerel and orange roughy as these are high in methylmercury.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding heavy metals, please do not hesitate to contact the Texas Poison Center Network 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Beware of the Effects of Kratom

The dangers of kratom have been making headlines for several years, but the concern over the plant remains the same. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings about kratom and since then has identified at least 44 deaths related to its use.  Kratom is a tropical leaf, native to Southeast Asia containing active alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, that when consumed, can cause stimulant and sedative effects. Most importantly, it can lead to psychotic symptoms and psychological addiction. 

The FDA has also provided warnings that some kratom products have been contaminated with salmonella; these products have been since recalled. The newest development on kratom containing products is that they have now been linked to heavy-metal poisoning. Heavy-metals can cause many severe health conditions, some of which include heart disease and stroke, harm to the reproductive system, and damage brain function and development.

How is Kratom Abused?
Even though Kratom is not approved for human consumption by the FDA, it is still being ingested in pill form, as a tea, or chewed in its original leaf form.  According to the FDA, low doses of kratom can produce stimulant like effects.  Users have reported increased alertness, physical energy, and talkativeness. In higher doses, users have experienced the opposite, sedative effects. Regardless of how it is used, it is considered to be potentially addictive.
Several cases of psychosis resulting from ingestion of kratom have been reported where individuals displayed symptoms such as hallucinations, delusion, and confusion. If you or someone you know has ingested kratom, please do not hesitate to contact a poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

Kratom’s side effects may include:
·         Nausea
·         Itching
·         Sweating
·         Dry mouth
·         Constipation
·         Increased urination
·         Loss of appetite
·         Seizures

According to the FDA, there is currently NO legitimate medical use for kratom in the United States. Additionally, the DEA has listed kratom as a Drug and Chemical of Concern. Poison Control Centers in the United States have seen an increase in calls regarding kratom. Since 2010, poison centers have seen a tenfold increase in cases.

If you or someone you know has a potentially poisoning or question about a poisoning, please do not hesitate to contact the Texas Poison Center Network at 1-800-222-1222. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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.