The Illinois Poison Center reports it receives more than 80,000 calls annually.
And while most of those calls are about prescription medication accidents or abuse, many accidental poisonings have nothing to do with prescriptions.
Other substances that can cause serious or possibly fatal consequences are vitamins or supplements, cosmetics, cleaning, home chemicals, personal products and over-the-counter medicines, especially analgesics or pain killers.
In fact, exposure to both over-the-counter and prescription analgesics was the No. 1 reason for reports to the IPC in 2012, with more than 10,000 calls, according to the center.
Pain relievers can be labeled as anything from aspirin to morphine, “and all can have different kinds of reactions,” Dr. Carol Deslauriers, Pharmacist and Illinois Poison Center Operations Director.
“People should have respect for their medications,” Deslauriers said. “They can do wonderful things, but they are still a chemical we are putting in our body.”
The IPC recommends the following tips to avoid prescription medication accidents, interactions and overdoses:
* Use one pharmacy for all prescriptions, so all medications are recorded in one place.
* Never share prescription medications.
* Read patient packaging inserts in all prescriptions and consult your physician if you do not understand the instructions.
* Store all medications safely out of reach from children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
* Never change your dose without talking to your doctor first.
* When filling a prescription for a new medication, ask you pharmacist to ensure the new drug will not interact with other medications you are already taking.
* Notify healthcare providers if you are taking herbal medications, supplements or vitamins.
* Use the cup or dosage spoon provided for liquid medications.
* Never tell children the medicine is candy. Don’t take medication in front of them.
* Don’t take or give medication in dark. Read the bottle every time.
* Get rid of prescription painkillers as soon as you are finished using them.
* Never dispose of medications down the sink or toilet.
The National Take Back Initiative, a prescription medication drop-off event, will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, April 27, in front of the Law Enforcement Center on Franklin Street in Decatur.
Prescription medications also can be dropped off for disposal during regular business hours at Maroa Police Department, Effingham County Sheriff’s Department, Eastern Illinois University Medical Clinic in Charleston and select pharmacies.
If you need help
If you or some you know has been exposed to a potentially harmful substance, call 911 or the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.