ASHI and MEDIC First Aid Blog

March 17, 2020

Preventing Medication Poisoning Incidents in Young People

This week is National Poison Prevention Week. In addition to the common household chemicals in our kitchens and garages, prescribed and over-the-counter (OTC) medications are also frequent sources of poisoning incidents. While we often think of the elderly as those most vulnerable to a medication poisoning incident, helping our older children understand proper medication usage is crucial to preventing accidents and adverse interactions.

Talking to Your Teens about OTC Medication Safety

According to the American Academy of Student Pharmacists:

  • Research shows that children begin to self-medicate around age 11. If not equipped with the knowledge and training to make safe choices, mistakes can happen.

  • By age 16, approximately 90% of adolescents report self-administering OTC medications.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reminds parents that talking to your teens and “tweens” about OTC medications not only helps keep them safe now, but also establishes good habits to follow throughout their lives. Take a moment today and remind your age-appropriate children to:

  • Read and follow the medicine label every time.

  • Never to share your medicine with someone else or use someone else's medicine.

  • Always use the dosing device that comes with the medicine.

  • Take only one medicine at a time with the same active ingredient.

  • Store all medicines up and away and out of reach and sight.

  • Be sure to only take medicines with the permission and guidance from a parent or trusted adult.

Alcohol, Drugs, Medications, and When to Call the Poison Control Center

The use, or overuse, of alcohol, drugs, or medications can result in serious life-threaten­ing problems. For example, a diminished mental status can result in the loss of an airway when breathing becomes depressed and stops. Vomiting may also occur.

In quantity, these substances can become toxic or poisonous and result in internal damage to body organs and functions. Treat as you would with any other suspected ingested poisoning: Call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 for treatment recommendations and to speak with a regional poison control center. Poison control centers provide free, confidential medical advice 24/7, and are primary resources for information regarding the immediate treatment to exposure of any substance.

To learn more and see a short video about emergency care for ingested poisons, see our blog post, “Pediatric Emergency Care for Ingested Poisoning.” For more on inhaled poisons, click here.




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