On a hot August day in the 1930s, ten strangers were lured to an island mansion by the mysterious U. N. Owen. Over dinner, a recording played, and the voice of an unseen host accused each person of hiding a guilty secret. That evening, former reckless driver Tony Marston was found murdered by a deadly … more
It all started back in the 1940s: After World War II, there was a substantial increase in the number of household products available to consumers, including many items that hadn’t been seen in homes before, such as cleaning products, pesticides, drugs and other chemicals. Many were poorly packaged and contained really toxic ingredients. People had … more
Recently, I saw a headline that made my mouth drop: It’s been 10 years since the debut of what many consider to be the greatest television drama of all time, Breaking Bad! Since becoming a specialist here at the Illinois Poison Center, I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for the series because of the central role … more
It takes a lot of work to maintain the health and safety of our homes, especially when we have small children to care for. But despite everything we do to keep our homes in good shape, it’s not always the cleaners and chemicals we have to watch out for: houses can pose their own types … more
Your emergency department patient ingested an unknown amount of an unidentified over-the-counter analgesic. Your toddler took a bite out of your deodorant stick. You accidentally took your mother’s heart medication instead of your allergy medicine. Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! Oops, wrong blog. Let’s try that again. Who you gonna call? The Illinois Poison Center … more
While the flu always has the potential to be deadly, you may not know about a hidden danger lurking in your medicine cabinet, especially during cold and flu season: acetaminophen (Tylenol). Acetaminophen is a common drug for treating flu symptoms, like fever and chills, muscle and body aches, headaches, and sore throats. Acetaminophen, however, can’t … more
It’s that time of the year again, and along with the cold weather, nasty colds, hacking coughs and stuffy noses have arrived. Time to break out the over-the-counter decongestants and other treatments that make you feel better. Many families use mint-scented products like Vapo Rub, that are massaged on the skin or inhaled, to give … more
‘Tis the season for family, friends, fun, and . . . food poisoning (ewww). For some unfortunate merrymakers, holiday feasts will start in the dining room and end in the bathroom. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that every year, more than 76 million people fall victim to a foodborne illness. … more
Halloween is a real treat for humans, but not so much for our pets. Did you know that chocolate is toxic to all mammals, but only dogs will eat a potentially fatal amount? The darker the chocolate, the worse it is for a dog, since milk chocolate and white chocolate are diluted with other ingredients.
We get some crazy calls here at the IPC, including some that are a little gross—such as when someone has eaten a BUG. Although we are technically a few days into fall, the weather here in Illinois has been decidedly summery. So why not cap off a week of 90-degree days with a list of … more
With Labor Day quickly approaching, many families will enjoy one last poolside outing before summer ends. Unfortunately for nervous swimmers, while the iconic music from the 1975 film Jaws can be unnerving, giant human-eating sharks aren’t the only things to worry about when heading out for a dip. In the past couple of years, the … more
OMG! Uh oh. Geez! Duh. Shoot! Yep, we’ve heard these exclamations time and time again. We all strive to do what’s best for our families by keeping our children safe and our homes clean. However, once in a while, some of the methods we use to achieve these goals totally backfire and can have minor—or … more
Mushrooms, fungi, toadstools—no matter what you call them, you have probably seen them growing in your yard and likely have eaten them in a pizza or stir fry. Over 5 million species of fungus exist in the world. They come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes—not to mention smells—and range from edible delicacy to … more
Antidotes 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, … more
‘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 … more
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 … more
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.
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 … more
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 … more
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. … more
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 … more
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, … more
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.