Sometimes the safety of home can seem to disappear quickly during a toxic exposure or ingestion.
Which ingestion probably is safe enough for a parent to monitor at home?
a. Your child eats half a bottle of gummy vitamins (without iron).
b. Your child chews on a Tide Pod.
c. Your child plays with your vial of e-cigarette nicotine and eats it.
d. You accidentally give your child 5 milliliters, instead of 1 milliliter, of Tylenol.
The best answer is A, gummy vitamins without iron. Tide Pods can be poisonous, often leading to vomiting and sleepiness very quickly because of high alcohol content. Nicotine and an inappropriate amount of Tylenol also are dangerous.
Ingestions can be complicated, but poison control can help. It should always be your first call if your child ingests, inhales, or gets into anything that seems remotely poisonous. The phone number is 800-222-1222. Poison control is staffed by experts with the latest information on how and when to manage accidental ingestions and/or exposures to drugs, chemicals, or other toxic agents. When you call, an expert usually will ask several specific questions. These are vital to the well-being of the exposed person and may include:
1. How long ago did it happen?
2. Does the child look sleepy (lethargic) to you? What is his or her mental status?
3. Has the child thrown up?
4. Is the child breathing fast? If you have ever seen your child get sick with a virus during cold and flu season, you may have noticed his or her chest moving up and down or in and out faster than usual. If he or she does this after a possible ingestion, this may indicate the need for an emergency department evaluation.
5. Have you done any treatment, such as giving a bath or washing the mouth out?
In the summertime, kids can be exposed to several potentially toxic substances. Sunscreen and insect repellents are never edible – even if they are organic. Items such as tiki torch oils or essential oils can cause kids to choke as well as poison the body. Glow sticks and fireworks are created with toxic chemicals.
To prevent common exposures to medications and household cleaning products (including laundry and dishwasher detergents or bathroom cleaners), make sure your home is made childproof. Keep medications in child-resistant packaging. If you have any concern about an ingestion, call poison control immediately.
Anandini Rao is a medical student at Texas A&M University Health Science Center in Temple