for your health
By Joseph Hanna
YOUR HOME IS your child’s playground.
While you can’t always stop children from
being curious and being keen explorers of
cabinets and drawers, you can prevent them
from successfully reaching a household item
or medication bottle that can lead to poisoning. Although some home substances are
clearly toxic, others may be less obvious and
easily accessible. A substance doesn’t always
have to be eaten for it to be toxic. Some are
poisonous when they are inhaled or when
they’re in contact with the skin or eyes.
Poison control centers in the United States
receive 1. 2 million calls each year as a result of
accidental poisoning of children ages 5 and
under, according to the National Capital
Poison Center. Each year, about 53,000 kids in
that age group are treated in emergency rooms
for poisoning, and about 70 die. Nearly 90 percent of these toxic exposures occur in the
home, and 60 percent involve non-pharma-ceutical products such as cosmetics, cleansers,
personal-care products, plants, pesticides, art
supplies, alcohol and toys.
Make sure you keep the following household products out of your child’s reach.
• Prescription and over-the-counter products such as acetaminophen
(Tylenol™), iron pills, cold and flu products,
herbal supplements, vitamins and sedatives
• Cleaning supplies such as detergents and bleaches
• Cosmetics such as creams, ointments, nail polish and perfumes
• Other products, including alcohol,
garden pesticides, windshield washer fluid
and antifreeze, and items containing lead,
such as batteries and lead-based paint
• Plants, which, although they add
color to your home or garden, may be poisonous when touched or when a certain part of
the plant, such as the seed or leaf, is eaten
• Check in and around your home for
substances that may be harmful to your toddler and store them in a high or locked cabinet. Return hazardous products to their safe
place right after using them.
• Keep medications and other chemicals
Kid-proof your home
from potential hazards
in their original labeled bottles, and remember
that child-resistant containers may not always
be childproof. Don’t take medicines in front of
your child, and don’t refer to them as candy.
• Don’t throw medications in the garbage. Talk to your Costco pharmacist about
how to safely dispose of them.
• Search for a list of “poisonous plants”
by searching for the term at the National
Capital Poison Center’s website (www.poison.
org/prevent/ plants.asp). The ones identified as
poisonous should be stored out of the reach of
children. Teach kids that household plants
should never be eaten or touched.
• Call 911, or have the phone number for
your local poison control center handy in case
of accidents. It can be found on the American
Association of Poison Control Centers’ website at aapcc.org; click on “Resources.”
If your child has inhaled poison, immediately take him or her outside to fresh air. If the
eyes or skin were involved, flush the affected
areas with lukewarm water for 15 minutes. If
it was ingested, give the child small sips of
water and avoid using products such as ipecac
for inducing vomiting, as health-care professionals no longer recommend it. In certain
cases, activated charcoal may be used under
the direction of a health-care provider; this
substance helps prevent certain poisons from
being absorbed in the stomach.
Some ingested substances have an antidote that reverses the effects of the poison
when taken as soon as possible following
exposure. Of course, if you think your child
was poisoned, don’t wait for symptoms. Call
911 or your local poison center immediately.
Young children will touch and eat anything. Simply telling them that a product is
harmful may not always be enough to protect
them from it. Simple safety measures are the
most effective way to make sure that the poison is inaccessible. With these tips in mind,
your home will be a poison-free zone, and
you’ll feel more at ease when children explore
their surroundings. C
Joseph Hanna, B.Sc. Phm., CDE, CGP,
is director of Costco Pharmacy in Canada.
for your health
PEPTIC ULCERS ARE small sores in the
protective lining of the stomach, small
intestine and esophagus. The most common symptom of these ulcers is a burning pain in your stomach.
Peptic ulcers are frequently caused
by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria,
which can produce inflammation that
progresses to an ulcer. An estimated
4 million Americans have peptic ulcer
disease; one in 10 Americans will experience this disease in his or her lifetime.
H. pylori was not discovered until
1982. Prior to that, it was believed that
spicy foods, acid, stress and lifestyle
were the major causes of ulcers, according
to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC). Antibiotics can now
successfully eliminate ulcers caused by
You’re at risk for ulcers if you:
• Are 50 years old or older
• Drink alcohol excessively
• Smoke cigarettes or use tobacco
• Have a family history of
Your doctor can test you for H. pylori
infection that can be cured by antibiotics.
Peptic ulcers can also be caused by
frequent use of pain medications called
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
(NSAIDs), including aspirin, ibuprofen
and naproxen. You’re at risk for NSAID-
related ulcers if you:
• Are age 60 or older
• Take NSAIDs for extended
periods or in doses greater
• Have a history of ulcers or
• Take steroid medications,
such as prednisone
• Take blood thinners, such
• Use alcohol or tobacco regularly
• Experience stomach discomfort
and heartburn after taking NSAIDs
• Take different medications that
contain aspirin and other NSAIDs
For more information, visit the CDC
( cdc.gov/ulcer).—David Wight
The Costco Connection
Costco and Costco.com carry a variety of
over-the-counter acid-reduction medications used for treatment of peptic ulcers.