It’s that time of year when many people set out to better themselves; the turn of the calendar gives us a fresh start and a clean slate. Here are two resolutions that have the potential for toxicity and some IPC-recommended resolutions as well.
Over the Counter (OTC) Diet Pills
Losing extra weight has valuable beneficial health effects, but OTC diet pills are a potentially dangerous way to try to get there. They almost universally contain a stimulant of some type such as caffeine or synephrine and always plenty of exotic sounding herbal ingredients, such as guarana, yerba mate, kola nut. Common statements you’ll see in the advertising include “clinically proven” and “research has shown” however, only rarely do they provide the citation on a published study and even rarer still that those studies are in a reputable medical or science journal. It’s important to remember that the vast majority of these products are NOT FDA approved to be safe or effective and the manufacturing standards are nowhere near the same level that they are for real medications.
Side effects of diet pills can include: nausea/vomiting, restlessness, tremor, increased heart rate, insomnia, confusion, electrolyte abnormalities, and muscle breakdown. These effects could be especially dangerous if you have any cardiac conditions, a history of seizures or are on prescription medications (drug interactions). If you are interested in an alternative to diet pills for help in shedding extra pounds, US News and World Reports recently rated the top weight loss diets out there.
Anyone who has ever smoked before knows that nicotine withdrawal can be killer. It can effortlessly break the most well-intentioned attempt to quit. Many nicotine replacement products are on the market to lessen the physiologic withdrawal piece of the quitting equation. They come in an array of delivery systems such as gum, patches, lozenges and inhalers.
Smoking cigarettes is of course unhealthy, and all nicotine products can be dangerous in themselves, especially to children. If you decide that nicotine replacement therapy is right for you, make sure to keep all the products locked up out of reach and sight of children and pets. Make sure to dispose of used products immediately (i.e. put used patches/chewed gum into a double Ziplock bag and put it right in the outside trash, not in the bathroom garbage can). As little as one piece of nicotine chewing gum or one whole cigarette can be toxic in a toddler. Symptoms of nicotine poisoning include vomiting, sweating, lethargy, and tremors in mild poisoning and confusion, paralysis and seizures in severe poisoning.
The New Year is also a great time to resolve to make your house poison proof, one room at a time! Follow these tips:
- Clean out your medicine cabinet/drawer and throw away any expired medications or those you are no longer taking, especially prescription pain medicine.
- Organize your cleaning supply cabinet. If possible, keep all your cleaning products in one place, in a locked cabinet (if you have children) and away from food or beverages. Toss any leaking bottles, or those so old that the directions label is faded or missing. Remember to always keep these products in their original containers.
- Clean out your refrigerator to prevent food poisoning. Dispose of old bottles of condiments/sauces or those holiday leftovers that are turning green.
- Take a quick tour of your garage and ensure that all bottles of windshield washer fluid and antifreeze are closed tight and stored up high out of reach and sight of children. In winter weather, it’s tempting to leave it out or transfer it to a smaller container for easy access, but that is a poisoning waiting to happen.
- Save IPC’s telephone number in your cell phone: 1-800-222-1222 and order a free IPC Complimentary Packet (sticker, magnet, tips, etc.). Our specially trained experts are here 24/7/365 for help with any questions or exposures to potentially toxic substances.
From all of us at the IPC, have a happy and healthy new year!