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Halloween: Scary for Kids, Even Scarier for Pets

Posted: October 26th, 2017 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

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. Read more »


The Top 10 Totally Toxic Mistakes

Posted: July 31st, 2017 | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

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 even severe—consequences. Here are the top 10 most common toxic mistakes:

  1. Applying products or chemicals that aren’t meant for the body.  One woman called because she had reached into her bathroom cabinet in the dark for a tube of personal lubricant and accidentally grabbed toothpaste instead. Similarly, a recent caller purchased some “all natural” household cleaner and assumed that since all the ingredients were all natural, it would be safe to use to disinfect her hands. However, the product’s ingredients, while natural, were caustic and caused chemical burns.

Read more »


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 »


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 »


The Case of the Home Remedy

Posted: June 17th, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

The IPC receives about 80,000 calls each year regarding poisonings; in 2013 over 50,000 of those were calling from their home about an exposure that occurred there.  Luckily, we were able to keep 90% of those people at home, without the need to go to an emergency room or doctor’s office for their exposure.  That is part of what we do here at the IPC—determine which 90% will do just fine with no treatment and which 10% need to be evaluated by a healthcare professional for possible treatment.

If you or your child has ingested a potentially harmful substance in your home, the first instinct often is to do something or give something in an attempt to counteract or reverse the potential poison.  This instinct is understandable and explains why there are so many home/folk remedies out there.  Unfortunately some of these can be much more dangerous than the substance originally ingested! Read more »


Guest Blog: Deborah Blum–Pulitzer Prize Winning Science Journalist & NYT Bestselling Author

Posted: October 30th, 2013 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

(from the American Association of Poison Control Centers)

blum

We had the wonderful opportunity to ask Deborah Blum, a New York Times Bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and expert on poison subjects, a few questions. Blum is a self-proclaimed fan of the poison center system and shared her views on everything from science education to poison history.  Read More


Halloween Health Safety Tips: How To Have A Safe and Spooky Good Time

Posted: October 15th, 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

halloweenHalloween is just around the corner and little ghosts and goblins everywhere are gearing up for this night of fright!  But parents BEWARE! As we begin to get into the spirit of Halloween, here are some quick pointers to ensure a hauntingly delightful Halloween Read more »


Ultra-Toxic Poisons May Be Lurking Right Under Your Nose

Posted: September 11th, 2012 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

There are a lot of poisons that can cause significant harm to adults, kids, and pets.  But did you ever wonder what kind of things make an expert answering phones in the IPC have a dry mouth, rapid heart rate, and raise the hair on the back of their neck?

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 »


Facts About Snake Bites in Illinois And Some Ways to Keep Safe

Posted: August 16th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Did you know we were in the middle of snake biting season? No we’re not suggesting that people are biting snakes this time of year, but snakes are indeed biting people. During the months of May-October, more snake bite incidents are recorded in the U.S. than any other time of the year. Considering we are in peak season, addressing this issue now seemed timely; just in case you and your family plan to go hiking or camping soon. Read more »


Poison Ivy: An Itch You Won’t Forget

Posted: August 2nd, 2011 | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

The fun of being outdoors on a hot summer day can often be rudely interrupted by the ultimate party pooper, poison ivy.  No, we’re not talking about Batman’s Poison Ivy that could stop a man’s heart with one kiss. We’re talking about the good ol’ green plant.  So in order to make sure your last remaining summer days are awesome and “itch-free”, we’re offering a really quick lesson on poison ivy (and its little buddies, poison oak and poison sumac), ways to prevent becoming its next victim and treatment advice just in case.  Enjoy and if you have any great poison ivy stories/adventures please share in the comment section below. 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 »


Where’s the Antidote?!

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

Antidotes are sexy.  We see it in James Bond and Indiana Jones movies:  the hero has been slipped a lethal poison (usually, while wearing a tuxedo) and just in the nick of time swallows a vial of mysterious liquid that allows him to continue to save the day.

(Watch the poisoning scene in James Bond Casino Royale)

The word antidote can be described as the opposite or antonym of ‘poison.’  It comes from the Greek word antidoton, meaning ‘to give against’.    A common misconception about antidotes is that every poison has one.   Read more »


Poison Prevention for Man’s Best Friend

Posted: April 12th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Although the Illinois Poison Center handles calls about human-related exposures only, we know many of our readers still need poison prevention tips for their furry, four-  legged friends. Did you know there was an animal poison control center located right here in Illinois?  Well this week the ASPCA Animal Poison Control offers some great tips to keep pets safe from potentially harmful-substances.

Most of us have heard the adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Nowhere is this more true than in veterinary medicine.  Dogs and cats are very mobile and it isn’t difficult for them to find things to get into.  Puppies and kittens explore the environment with their mouths, while bigger dogs and cats may have no problem reaching the countertops. This makes them very prone to accidental poisonings if the proper precautions are not taken. Read more »


The Latest Buzz about Kids, Teens and Caffeinated Energy Drinks

Posted: March 8th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

If that second cup of coffee you just had doesn’t keep you awake tonight, here’s something that might.  A recent issue of Pediatrics reviewed the effects of caffeine and energy drinks on children, adolescents, and young adults and found several concerning conclusions.

Did you know that over 500 new energy drink products were marketed worldwide in the last year? Also, did you know that these products are NOT regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? Because of this lack of regulation, there is no maximum dose of caffeine in energy drinks. These products can contain high amounts of caffeine, a nervous system stimulant that is commonly found in your morning coffee, tea, and soft drinks.  While caffeinated products may claim to increase exercise endurance and improve mood and memory, they are not without adverse effects, especially at higher doses.   Read more »


It’s Illinois Poison Prevention Month!

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

Poisoning still remains a very serious public health problem in the United States. People encounter poisonous and toxic substances in their homes, communities, and work environments every day. Did you know unintentional poisoning deaths are the #1 cause of injury-related deaths for children ages 18-36 months and the 2nd leading cause of injury-related deaths for U. S. adults?  Last year the IPC handled over 92,000 calls.  Approximately 52% of those calls were regarding children age 5 and under.  As part of our mission to reduce the incidence and injury of poisoning in our communities, the IPC uses the signature month of March to further spread the message of poison prevention to families and communities across Illinois. Read more »


Frightening Facts About Food-Grade Hydrogen Peroxide

Posted: February 8th, 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Perhaps you may have seen or heard of the perceived positive health claims of something called food grade hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen peroxide 12%, 17%, or 35%).  If you don’t read any further, let us give you our very strong opinion.  Don’t buy it! Don’t try it! Don’t bring it in your house! End of discussion.  Please read on and you’ll see all the reasons why. Read more »


Hypothermia and Frostbite: Know The Cold Facts

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

So it seems we find ourselves coming upon the dead of winter-the holidays are over and spring seems light years away. You may recall in August we posted a piece entitled “Hot Summer Days and Medications: A Recipe for Heat Stroke” So we decided to do a companion piece dealing with cold weather injuries which are hypothermia and frostbite. No, this is not just another story about what to do when your child on a dare licks a metal lamp post on a very cold day. Extreme cold must be taken very seriously.  Read more »


Beware of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Extreme Weather

Posted: November 2nd, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Every year like clockwork, the Illinois Poison Center sends out safety messages on how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning during the fall and winter months.  Since the heater was on in my house last night, the timing seems just about right for this year’s piece, especially since I had recently seen an article regarding carbon monoxide poisoned patients in our region a few days before.

This past week however, Illinois was pummeled with high winds and rain followed by unseasonably cold weather.  The upcoming winter is also predicted to be one marked by severe cold and higher than average snow fall with some pundits calling this year to be a “wintry battle zone”.  This made me think about the other risk factors in carbon monoxide poisoning – the loss of power during extreme weather and severe winter storms. Read more »


National Take-Back Initiative

Posted: September 20th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

 

 

On September 25, 2010, the DEA will coordinate a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from our nation’s medicine cabinets. Read more »


Toxic Pyrotechnics and other Fourth of July Hazards

Posted: June 29th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

By Tony and Carol 

Every holiday season brings forth its own set of poisoning hazards to adults, children and pets. The Fourth of July holiday poses unique opportunities for a Darwin Award. No matter what the holiday, one potential toxin guaranteed to be ubiquitous is alcoholic beverages. As Tony says, recalling the old proverb for this particular holiday: “He who drinks a fifth on the 4th, does not go forth on the 5th.” Read more »


Spring Fever and Poisonous Passion (aka Sexually Transmitted Poisons)

Posted: March 23rd, 2010 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

By Carol and our special guest blogger Dr Frank Paloucek

Sex and death share a history together in the arts and in medicine probably as far back as both coexist.  Normally, when you put the words ‘harmful’ and ‘sex’ in the same sentence, it would be one about sexually transmitted diseases (er, or maybe S & M).  But, did you know that poisons can also be transmitted via intimate contact and exposure to bodily fluids?  Reminds me of one of my favorite ‘statshots’ from the Onion®, on how ‘best to poison your adversary’:  “poison self, then have unprotected sex with adversary”.  Frank, who was my mentor in pharmacy school (and the man largely responsible for me being such a tox geek) happens to be an expert on sexually transmitted poisons (hey, everyone’s got to have a hobby) and he has graciously provided us with some of the strangest, most fascinating, but 100% true stories on how someone can be poisoned. Read more »


9am-10am (10 calls)

Posted: February 10th, 2010 | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »
  1. A 3 year old child ingested an entire roll of Rolaids.®
  2. An 18 month old child was found sucking on the wick of a oil-based plug-in air freshener. Read more »

Top 5 Things You Didn’t Think Could be Poisonous to Children

Posted: January 5th, 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

Half of the calls received by the IPC involve kids under the age of 6.  Young children are naturally curious and explore their environments by touching and putting things into their mouths.  They learn by imitation, their taste buds are immature and they do not understand cause and effect.  Plus they are just small, so in many cases it doesn’t take much to overwhelm their little systems.  The IPC recommends keeping all potentially harmful substances away from children, because just about anything can be a poison in the right amount.  The following 5 things are in many households and it may surprise you that they can be so harmful. Read more »


Welcome to the Illinois Poison Center Blog

Posted: December 9th, 2009 | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

An Introduction to the Illinois Poison Center Blog:

Welcome to the first post of the Illinois Poison Center blog site!  I must be honest, in medical school I never thought I would be writing an internet blog, probably because Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet and blogs did not exist.  A lot has changed in the past 20 plus years.  With the tremendous growth in the internet and social media, the ability to communicate in the blogosphere has taken off with mommy blogs, daddy blogs, political blogs, community blogs, health-related blogs and others.  There are those who may ask “Does the world really need another blog, especially a poison center blog?”  I would have to answer with an unequivocal “yes”.

The Illinois Poison Center provides a variety of services and programs that encompass health care, public health education and research.  Through this blog, we will generate a dialogue, a conversation, with everyone interested in decreasing the harm of poisoning in their family, community or in the patients they treat.

We will have stories, articles, news you can use, interesting poisoning cases, and information and education on how to make your home and community safer. Read more »