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Parents warned to keep nasal sprays, eye drops out of children’s reach

By Arthur Elk

If you’re a parent, child safety is a concern and you have probably worried about your children accidentally swallowing something that they shouldn’t and getting sick or dying. More than 60,000 young children end up in emergency departments every year because they got into medicines while their parent or caregiver was not looking. Unfortunately, it can even happen with things you might not think of as toxic. The most recent cause for concern: eye drops and nasal decongestant sprays.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning the public that young children can become seriously ill if they accidentally swallow over-the-counter eye drops and nasal decongestant sprays. The products are sold under various brand names such as Visine, Dristan and Mucinex, as well as in generic and store brands.

The FDA is advising people to keep these products – which contain the active ingredients tetrahydrozoline, oxymetazoline, or naphazoline (known as imidazoline derivatives) – out of the reach of children at all times. Children who swallow even miniscule amounts of these products can have serious adverse effects, the FDA warns.

Between 1985 and 2012, the FDA identified 96 cases in which children ranging from 1 month to 5 years accidentally swallowed products containing these ingredients. Although there were no deaths reported, more than half of the cases (53) reported hospitalization because of symptoms that included nausea, vomiting, sleepiness, rapid heartbeat and coma.

In January, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission proposed a rule to require child-resistant packaging for all products containing at least 0.08 mg of an imidazoline derivative. However, this rule has not been finalized. While child-resistant packaging can’t completely stop accidentally swallowing by children, it is a safety measure that should be in place for any commonly used products that can endanger your children.

If a child accidentally swallows OTC redness-relief eye drops or nasal decongestant spray, call your local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) immediately. Experts are available all day, every day at these centers. If necessary, poison center staff will immediately help get emergency medical services to your home. Program this number into your home and cell phones so you will have it when you need it. Post it on the fridge so it is in plain sight. This is a number every parent should have readily available. In the event of an emergency, you don’t want to be delayed trying to find the right number to call to get you the help you need.

The personal injury lawyers of Elk & Elk want you and your family to be safe, so please remember to always keep any medications out of the reach of children. And if a medication has a safety cap, make sure it is securely locked every time you close the bottle. Don’t let a product that is designed to help you feel better cause a tragedy in your home.