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A popular sports drink and nail polish remover – What do they have in common?

Health & Wellness

March 15, 2019

The third week in March marks “National Poison Prevention Week,” and Deirdre George Davis, coordinator of Poison Prevention at IU Health offers tips on keeping your home safe.

It’s purple. A popular purple sports drink is purple. A popular nail polish remover is also purple. Red hot candies are, well red. Sudafed, a pill used to relieve sinus congestion is a close match for those popular candies. Rat poison closely resembles powdered sugar. A tube of Hydrocortisone cream is about the same size and shape as a tube of toothpaste.

So what’s up with all these look-alikes? Believe it or not, they can pose a danger.

Someone gets up in the middle of the night and their eyes are tired and the next thing you know they’ve picked up the wrong bottle by mistake. 

“People think we’re just here for children but anyone in any walk of life can be poisoned. It’s not just medicine, it can be bleach under your kitchen sink,” said Deirdre George Davis, Coordinator of Poison Prevention at IU Health Methodist Hospital. “Poison can be anything used in the wrong way, in the wrong amount by the wrong person,” she said.

The Indiana Poison Center reports that poisoning is the second leading cause of all injury-related deaths in Indiana. In 2017, the Center managed almost 53,000 cases. Since 1988 the Center has managed more than 1.9 million cases by phone.

In 2017 nearly half of the exposure cases were children younger than six. In previous years more serious cases occurred in adolescents and adults. Almost half the cases reported involved exposure to medications or pharmaceuticals. About 90 percent of those cases occur at home.

So what are the best ways to prevent poisoning at home?

  • Keep medicines and toiletries – especially those that can be mistaken for candy - out of the reach of children.
  • Chemicals such as rat poisoning should be locked in cabinets and stored in their original containers.
  • Refrain from taking medicine in front of children.
  • Turn lights on when taking medicines in the middle of the night.
  • Read and save all information that comes with prescription medicines and take only as directed.
  • Check the date on all medications – prescribed and over-the-counter. Clean out medicine cabinets and throw away outdated products.
  • Never mix medicine with alcohol unless your doctor says you can.
  • Always measure the prescribed amount of medication. Never guess. If you have any questions, ask your doctor.
  • For more information contact: The Indiana Poison Center, 1-800-222-1222. www.indianapoison.org

-- By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.

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