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Changing attitudes on marijuana: A pictorial journey from the 1600’s to today

Posted: April 13th, 2017 | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Hemp, used to make sails, clothing and rope, was a staple agricultural product in America from the 1600s to the early 1900s. Marijuana or cannabis (e.g. flowers and leaves of female hemp plant) is a by-product of hemp production.

hemp farmHemp sailshemp-in-kentucky





(Image Source: Kentucky Hemp Farmers Assoc and Popular Mechanics 1938) Read more »

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The Top 3 Sexiest Antidotes

Posted: February 28th, 2017 | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

syringeAntidotes are arguably the most intriguing drugs out there: Someone is severely poisoned and all it takes is one dose of one drug that is the perfect opposite of the poison to cure them.  The truth is, there are a limited number of antidotes in existence—not every poison has one.  A few are pretty fascinating, and here are my 3 favorites: Read more »

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A Holiday Cocktail to Avoid – Alcohol and Prescription Medications

Posted: December 8th, 2016 | No Comments »

‘Tis the season to be jolly—but mixing alcohol and certain prescription medications is no laughing matter. The holiday season brings an abundance of parties with family and friends and very often a few glasses of liquid cheer. With higher alcohol consumption rates during the holiday season and an increasing number of people using multiple prescription medications, there are potentially dangerous consequences to combining some medications with alcohol.drink-warning

In general, mixing alcohol with certain medicines can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, drowsiness, fainting, loss of coordination, internal bleeding or breathing difficulties. Read more »

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Spend the Holidays with Family and Friends, Not the Bathroom

Posted: November 22nd, 2016 | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

As the holidays approach, families and friends across Illinois will make plans to celebrate the season together with a delicious meal. However, a helping of salmonella or staph at the Thanksgiving table can ruin a holiday feast faster than dry turkey or lumpy mashed potatoes. Read more »

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Halloween: Hocus Pocus vs. Potential Horrors

Posted: October 25th, 2016 | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Let’s start with the scarrrrrryyyyyy stuff…poisoned candy.

Read more »

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What I Learned about Laundry Pods at the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology

Posted: September 23rd, 2016 | No Comments »

Every year, the largest toxicology conference of the world–the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology–brings together toxicologists from around the globe to learn from each other and present research that impacts all of us. At this year’s conference, three fascinating abstracts on laundry pods.  If not interested in the study details, scroll down to “My take home points from these three abstracts” at the bottom of the blog. Read more »

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Loperamide (Imodium) abuse: An internet/street pharmacist’s dream or nightmare?

Posted: July 18th, 2016 | No Comments »

In May, a paper published in Annals of Emergency Medicine highlighted two deaths from loperamide abuse. Loperamide is the active ingredient in Imodium, a common and readily available anti-diarrheal medication. How available? A 400-pill bottle at Costco can be purchased for $7.59. Read more »

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Don’t let your toddler smoke this…

Posted: June 22nd, 2016 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

E-cigarettes: you are probably familiar with these battery powered contraptions that heat liquid nicotine (among other things) into vapor, which is then inhaled. E-cigarettes have become a multi-billion dollar industry in the past 9 years—unfortunately these products can be very dangerous to children.  As of 2014, 12.6% of US adults have used e-cigarettes at least once, which means they are in a lot of homes. Read more »

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IPC and EMS – Partners for LIFE

Posted: May 19th, 2016 | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

EMS, Emergency Medical Service, is much more than a ride to the hospital. It is a system of coordinated response and emergency medical care, involving multiple people and agencies. It is activated by a call for help, usually by a call to 911, after an incident of serious illness or injury.

The Illinois Poison Center (IPC) is proud to be an active partner with EMS for toxicology related cases, when necessary, 24/7/365!  No matter the severity of the case, the EMS/IPC team work together to guarantee the highest quality and speed of care.  Sometimes the case is extremely serious and the timing of care is a matter of life or death:

Saturday, 7:00pm – A paramedic called the IPC while en route to an ER (via ambulance):

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Top 5 things IPC specialists want you to know before you call

Posted: April 19th, 2016 | Tags: , , | No Comments »
  1. IPC specialists are healthcare professionals specially trained in toxicology.

The person who will answer your call is a physician, pharmacist, nurse or other healthcare provider who, on average, has over 15 years of experience at the IPC.  Collectively, our current staff has handled over 1.2 million cases regarding an exposure to a potentially harmful substance. Yes you are calling a 1-800 number for free, but the person on the other end is NOT an operator or a volunteer.  You can be sure that the person you talk to is an expert and will give you accurate information quickly.

Read more »

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National Poison Prevention Week: Much to celebrate and still much work to do

Posted: March 22nd, 2016 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

The 3rd week in March has been designated as National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW) by each and every President since John F. Kennedy started the tradition in 1962.  The Illinois Poison Center is a strong advocate of poison prevention and has worked with the Governor, Legislature and City of Chicago to have the entire month of March declared Illinois Poison Prevention Month (IPPM).

I know, it seems like overkill, but the trends and outcomes of lowering pediatric poisoning in Illinois is worthy of the effort. Read more »

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NOT a toy

Posted: February 16th, 2016 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Child-resistant caps are an important safety feature on the bottles of medications or other household substances (e.g. toilet bowl cleaner). The IPC recommends that they are used on all bottles in homes with children because they can reduce the incidence of poisoning.  What is critically important to remember, though, is that these caps are child-resistant, not child-proof.  Check out these two real cases that were reported to the IPC in just a 1 month period: Read more »

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The dangerous item that might be lurking in your new toys

Posted: January 20th, 2016 | Tags: , | No Comments »

Kids and adults alike received many toys over the recent holiday season.  Many of these toys have something in common—they are powered by button batteries. Button cell or disc batteries are coin shaped batteries used in electronic items such as toys, remote controls, hearing aids, musical greeting cards, calculators, and other small devices. Read more »

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The Ebb and Flow of Synthetic Cannabinoids in Illinois

Posted: November 25th, 2015 | No Comments »

The first time a large outbreak of people sickened by synthetic cannabinoids occurred was in March of 2010, when several dozen people presented to emergency departments in Missouri.  Despite Illinois’ close proximity to MO, for the rest of that year, there were only 4 cases reported to the Illinois Poison Center, mostly in the Southern portion of the state.  I personally thought that it was a blip and this drug would miss Illinois as we tend to be below the national average in respects to drug abuse.

I was wrong.  Really wrong. Read more »

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Poisons and Poison Centers—Back to the Future

Posted: October 21st, 2015 | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

October 21, 2015—the date when Doc and Marty come to the future from 1985 in the movie Back to the Future II.  I remember watching those movies repeatedly when I was little, and marveling about the differences between 1985 life and the imagined 2015 life.  2015 is here, and needless to say, a lot has changed in 30 years, including in the toxicology and poison center world. Read more »

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Seriously scary poisons that used to be in Grandpa’s shed…and maybe still are!

Posted: September 15th, 2015 | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

The IPC is consulted on over 80,000 poisoning cases each year—about 30,000 of those cases involve a nondrug household-use product.  That is over 80 each day!   Household-use products include cleaners, hydrocarbons, pesticides, automotive products, and personal care products like soaps and lotions.  Luckily, most unintentional exposures to these substances results in minor or no toxicity at all.  In fact, the majority can be managed at home or wherever the exposure occurred, with help from our expert staff. Read more »

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How the State of Illinois leverages $1,000,000 to save over $52,000,000 in health care costs

Posted: July 28th, 2015 | No Comments »

It has been almost 6 years since the first IPC blog article was written.   It has taken a lot of time and work to continue this blog conversation; I hope it has been worthwhile for all of you who have followed us since the beginning as well as for those who are new to our musings of all things poison.

For those unaware of Illinois politics, the IPC is once again affected by another  Illinois state budget crisis.   There is significant uncertainty as the fate of state support for the Illinois Poison Center (IPC).  The IPC however provides incredible value to the state of Illinois for its current $1,000,000 investment.

To explain this I have to use a term that I did not learn in medical school:  Leverage

Read more »

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A Day in the Life of a Poison Center

Posted: July 2nd, 2015 | 1 Comment »

We hope you enjoyed our Day in the Life of the Poison Center blog-a-thon.  Those cases represent just a single day here at IPC; that translates to nearly 80,000 people that we help each year in Illinois.  Hopefully after reading these sample cases, you’ve learned that the IPC can help with just about any substance out there, and that there is no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed to call, because we really have heard it all!  To view the cases again, click on any/all the following hourly posts:  Read more »

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The 6 T’s of a Snake bite

Posted: June 16th, 2015 | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

By Carol

Summer means a lot of different things to people; one thing it means to us at the IPC—snake season! There are over 6,000 snake bites reported to the nation’s poison centers annually, and we tend to see many of them in the warmer months.  There are 4 venomous snakes indigenous to Illinois (read about those here).  Those are the biters, but what about the ‘bitees’?   What is the epidemiology of snake bite victims?  Oftentimes a snake bite victim’s characteristics can be described in 6 Ts… Read more »

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The Do’s and Don’ts for Spiders that BITE!

Posted: May 20th, 2015 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

While fear of spiders – arachnophobia – is a common phobia, spiders actually tend to avoid human contact. In fact, they only attack when they feel threatened by us. Therefore, the most common situations resulting in bites are when spider webs get severely disturbed or torn down or when the creatures are about to be crushed. For example, they might bite if they are threatened when they get caught in a glove or boot. Read more »

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Why your kid won’t stop putting stuff in their mouth!

Posted: April 21st, 2015 | No Comments »

By special guest blogger Lawren Wellish, MD


Every single day, the poison center gets calls from parents or caregivers asking for advice after their child has gotten a hold of one of those no-no products and taken a sip or a swim.   Parents often feel guilty and frustrated about this. We hear lots of callers say, “I just turned my back for a second!” or “I TOLD him never to touch that!”  We’d like you to know, this is a VERY common occurrence, you are not alone, and you are not a bad parent!

Read more »

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Day in the life of a Poison Center: 11pm-11:59pm

Posted: March 19th, 2015 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »
  1. A 38 year old woman got out of the shower, did not have her glasses on and reached for her aerosol spray deodorant but instead used Scrubbing Bubbles.
  2. A 23 year old female was brought to the ER after confessing to her mother that she had ingested several handfuls of her medication. Read more »
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Day in the life of a Poison Center: 10pm-11pm

Posted: March 19th, 2015 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »
  1. A 2 year old ingested an unknown amount of moisturizing body butter.
  2. A father called; when he went to check on his sleeping 11 month old son on his way to bed, he found that the baby had pulled off his diaper and eaten some of the absorbent diaper material inside. Read more »
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Day in the life of a Poison Center: 9pm-10pm

Posted: March 19th, 2015 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »
  1. A woman called because she had reached into her bathroom cabinet in the dark for a tube of personal lubricant and accidentally used toothpaste instead.
  2. A 5 year old ingested up to 10 of his own Singulair. Read more »
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Day in the life of a Poison Center: 8pm-9pm

Posted: March 19th, 2015 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »
  1. An ER called requesting treatment advice regarding a 26 year old intoxicated male who was bit by his pet rattlesnake on the neck. He was showing off the snake to his friends at a party and placed it around his neck.
  2. A father called after cooking tater tots in the oven; after his kids ate them, the caller realized there was a charred rat corpse in the oven. Read more »
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