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“Poison”…What’s it Really Mean?

Posted: February 28th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

March is Illinois Poison Prevention Month

Say the word “poison” and most people conjure up an image of chemicals in a container marked with a skull and cross-bones, arsenic or even Agent Orange.   But these are only a few of the thousands of substances the experts in the call center deal with that involve children and adults of all ages,  ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds.  A majority of the calls involve medication errors, medication/drug reactions; cleaning/beauty care/automotive products, insect/animal bites and stings, plants, food, vitamins/supplements, lead, carbon monoxide and sometimes even regular drinking water, etc.  Basically…anything and everything has the potential to be harmful; Read more »


Why are you all up in my business?!

Posted: February 21st, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The IPC managed nearly 77,000 exposures in 2011, and nearly 75% of these came from calls from the general public.  In addition to providing expert recommendations and treatment advice, our IPC specialists collect information as well.   If you have ever called the IPC, you may have balked at our request for certain personal information – ‘Why do you need that information? What’s so important about my zipcode?’  We ask for this information because we create a medical record just like at your doctor’s office.  Most people expect that the receptionist will ask for basic information at your yearly check-up, and a ‘telephone visit’ with the IPC is very similar.  And like the medical record at your doctor’s office, your IPC medical record is completely, absolutely, 100% confidential. Read more »


Teaching, Treating, and Problem Solving Poisonings

Posted: February 8th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

…A Unique Medical Partnership: Toxikon and the Illinois Poison Center

What happens if:

  • Someone is stung by a lionfish?
  • Eats a poisonous mushroom in the forest preserve?
  • Drinks a Lava Lamp?
  • Swallows too many iron pills?
  • These are all examples of problems that the partnership of the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) and the Toxikon Consortium have handled.  Toxikon, based at Cook County’s Stroger Hospital is a partnership with the University of Illinois and the IPC. Read more »


    The Illinois Poison Center – Literally a “SPI’s Nest” of Activity

    Posted: January 24th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    No, the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) is not a clandestine arm of the CIA, FBI, or KGB. However, it is staffed by a team of well qualified “SPIs” around the clock.  So, what exactly is a SPI you ask? Read more »


    Start the Year Right: Safe New Year Resolutions

    Posted: January 17th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Start the Year Right: Safe New Year Resolutions

    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. Read more »


    Seniors Are at Risk for Poisoning, Too!

    Posted: January 3rd, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    The following post was contributed by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

    If you are a senior adult, you may think that poison centers and poison prevention are mainly for kids. But seniors are at risk for poisoning, too!

    As we age, we often take more and more medicine, whether prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin or herbal. And that means more chances to make mistakes. Read more »


    Be Safe with Holiday Evergreen Decorations

    Posted: December 13th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    During the holiday season, evergreen plants adorn houses all over the world.  For the northern climates, the outside can be dreary, cold and devoid of life.  Decorations of green-leaved plants and bright red berries add spark and life to our homes.  Through generations of tradition, decorative plants such as holly, mistletoe and occasionally the yew plant provide a backdrop that helps bring the holiday feeling alive. Read more »


    Poinsettia Plants – Poisonous or Not? Let’s Put it to Rest

    Posted: December 6th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Nothing says the holidays quite like bright lights, trees and other decorations; and no holiday decor would seem complete without those pretty poinsettias. Although poinsettias are a fixture around many homes this time of year, calls to the IPC increase from concerned parents, Read more »


    Small Stocking Stuffers Can Spell BIG Trouble

    Posted: November 29th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    With all the fun and excitement of gift shopping and exchanging this holiday season, it is easy to buy the coolest toys and games, but some of them may be dangerous in small hands.  We want to point out two items that if swallowed by a child (or anyone for that matter) could lead to injury to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and may even pose a life threatening risk.  If swallowed, high powered magnets and button batteries may damage the lining of the stomach and intestine to such an extent that an emergency surgery may be necessary. Read more »


    We’re Grateful You’re Part of Our Team!

    Posted: November 15th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    As we approach the end of this year, we would like to thank all of you for your continued support of the IPC. The IPC is proud to play a vital role in Illinois’ health care network. Without you and others like you who carry our message and have offered personal financial support to help us continue our efforts, we would not be as successful doing our job.

    For over 50 years, we have been just a phone call away; providing immediate help in handling poison emergencies throughout Illinois. Read more »


    “My Child Ate…!” Honorable Mentions

    Posted: October 11th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    There are just way too many “My Child Ate…” scenarios for us to write about! However here are a few honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the “My Child Ate…” series but are just as important:

    • “My Child Ate… The Dog’s Food”

    Although it might be uberly gross to discover that your child has forgone your dinner delight for a canine cuisine, there’s no need to worry. Eating a mouthful of dog or cat food poses no immediate harm and toxicity should not be an issue. Read more »


    “My Child Ate… Nature!”

    Posted: October 4th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    Bleeeaaauuugghh!!

    Nasty!!!

    Eeeeeewwww!!

     How many times have you squealed aloud after discovering your child has recently delved into what they believe to be a culinary delight but you know to be just plain gross?

    While getting outside to allow your brood some time to release excess energy is the primary goal, it may lead to unexpected, and often quite disgusting ingestions. Read more »


    “My Child Ate…Something Around the House!”

    Posted: September 27th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    The blog series “My Child Ate…” continues this week with us taking a look at the top ten things children are getting into around the house.  Each year, poison centers receive over one million calls involving children ages five and under.  Have you ever wondered what in the world kids are getting into? Well check out our top 10 list below:

    1. Cosmetics/Personal Care Products: “It’s pretty and pink.  It’s easy to open, and looks like a  fruit drink.” Read more »

    “My Child Ate…Poop!”

    Posted: September 20th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Welcome to the IPC’s second installment of the “my child ate…” blog series.  Last week Mike explored the dangers of prescription medications, and this week I am going to talk about stuff kids eat that is really, really gross.   Like poop, for example.  Do kids really eat poop, you may ask?  They sure do.  All shapes, sizes and species.  I can even give you a ranking of the most common poop calls we get:

    1.  Human

    Most of the time, for babies, this is in the form of their own poop.  It is the most common poop call because, well… it’s the most accessible—it comes right out of them! Read more »


    “My Child Ate…Grandma’s Medicine”

    Posted: September 13th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    Over the next 4 weeks the IPC staff will contribute some of their most compelling cases from the call center that often start with three words, “my child ate…” We hope you enjoy this blog series, and we encourage you to share your own “My Child Ate…” stories or your poison center experience.

    There is a burgeoning fascination with the strange things children eat.  If one were to do an internet search on the three words “my child ate”, it looks like a lot of children are eating Tums, poop (yes, poop, human and pet), pennies, crayons, deodorant and a host of household products.  Going beyond internet search, the TLC channel even has a TV show on the subject and has casting calls for the show “Your Child at What?” Read more »


    Mother Nature’s Most Dangerous Toxins

    Posted: September 6th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    It’s one of the biggest poison myths of all time:  ‘all-natural’ or ‘organic’ substances are safer than their man-made or ‘chemical’ counterparts.  However, the fact is that some of the most toxic substances known to man come straight from mother earth (or her creatures).   There may be many positives about organic or all-natural products, but being inherently safer to humans is not one of them.   Please don’t make the mistake of being less than vigilant in the way you store organic cleansers, all-natural pesticides or herbal supplements.  Remember the toxicology mantra “the dosage makes it so”.   Any substance can be potentially harmful/toxic in the right amount! Read more »


    Too Much of A Good Thing…

    Posted: August 30th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    Making sense of new voluntary dosing guidelines on acetaminophen containing products: Minimizing liver damage associated with a common medicine.

    Acetaminophen is one of the most common over-the-counter (OTC) medications, appearing in over 600 OTC products. It is an effective pain reliever and fever reducer when used as directed, though it can cause severe liver damage if overused. In fact, acetaminophen overdose is the most common cause of acute liver failure requiring a liver transplant in the United States. Read more »


    Calling the IPC? Here’s What You Can Expect…

    Posted: August 9th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    Over 70,000 Illinois residents call the IPC from home, work or other location every year for help regarding a potentially harmful substance. However if you’ve never called our poison center, you may be wondering how we do things around here.  Below are answers to some common questions that we hope will increase your knowledge and familiarity about calling the poison center.

    What can I call the poison center for? Read more »


    Truth, Dare, Double Dare…

    Posted: July 19th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    Unfortunately, many poison exposure incidents start with 3 little words: “I dare you…”  A group of friends egging each other on, calling bravery into question (and often offering money if the dare is completed) can quickly turn a flippant suggestion into a potential medical emergency.

    Here are some  dares the IPC staff has consulted on:

    • A 40 year old male was dared to chew and swallow a lizard for $50.  A live one.  There is a reason we have the Brookfield Zoo’s senior reptile keeper’s phone number on our quick number list! Read more »

    Coming Soon to a Pharmacy Near You…

    Posted: June 21st, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    New Pediatric Acetaminophen Dosing Guidelines and Formulation Changes

    If you are in tune to healthcare and medical news stories, you probably already know that overdosing or chronically using too much of the popular non-aspirin product called acetaminophen may cause serious and possibly even fatal liver damage.  Read more »


    Baths Salts: Examples of Paranoia, Psychosis & Tragedy

    Posted: June 14th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    I just love doing internet searches.  I am old enough to remember searching the library for journals, magazines and newspapers, books, and scanning microfiche for hours on end in order to find information for projects and articles.  Now with technology, key tidbits on almost any topic are just a few key strokes away.

    Recently, I was reading a list serve thread about Bath Salts and a potential relationship with traumatic death by suicide or homicide. Read more »


    Top 10 Drug and Poison Safety Tips

    Posted: June 7th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    June is National Safety Month.  Did you know that potentially hazardous substances can be found in nearly every home?  Follow these tips to keep you and your family safe from potentially toxic exposures!

    1. Store all medications, chemicals and household products out of reach and out of sight of children—ideally locked up. Read more »


    Don’t Eat the Toothpaste!

    Posted: February 1st, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

    Have you ever noticed the bold statement on the label of your toothpaste tube: “WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age.  If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately?”  Pretty scary, huh?  Especially when this stuff is supposed to do such wonderful things like prevent cavities and gum disease, freshen breath, and give you that dazzling bright smile.   Read more »


    Keeping Illinois Safe: Hazard surveillance & Public health safety

    Posted: January 25th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

    The Illinois Poison Center (IPC) receives over 90,000 poison-related calls from the public and health care providers around the state every year.  Individually, each call is important to us and to the caller looking for information and advice.  Collectively however, the IPC calls become the database for hazardous exposures for the state of Illinois.  There is no other database like it in our designated area.  Read more »


    A Year in Review: Children’s OTC Cough & Cold Products Label Changes

    Posted: January 11th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Hopefully you’re not home reading our blog with thermometer in mouth, feet soaking in hot water, lemon tea brewing on the stove, fighting off the nasty bug that you or your kids picked up at work or school – but it is indeed winter, the time of year when so many of us suffer the miserable effects of the common cold or flu.  Naturally, the use of a variety of non-prescription pain-relievers, fever-reducers, and cough/cold remedies goes up dramatically during the cold season, so it shouldn’t surprise you that the number of accidental poisonings and adverse drug reactions to these products does as well, especially among children.  In 2009, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reported a whopping total of 88,355 cases in the US involving cough and cold medications (CCMs); 46% involving children younger than 5 years old.   Read more »