Poison Safety Necessary for
People with Dementia

A poison center caller states that her 83-year-old father has dementia and that he drank disinfectant cleaner that had been left unattended on the kitchen counter. The caller states that the active ingredient is a long group of words that ends in ammonium chloride, but that she can’t read it all because the label was wet and torn. Her father is coughing, drooling and complaining of pain in his mouth, but is refusing water. The specialist at the poison center advised the caller to take her father to the emergency room and that the specialist would call ahead to alert the emergency room that they were on their way.

Many disinfectants today are Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats). There are many different ingredients that are classified as Quats and some are marketed as “bleach alternatives”. Ingredients that are Quats often end with the words ammonium chloride. These products are safe when used as directed on the label, but can be dangerous if swallowed/aspirated. More information on specific ingredients that are classified as Quats can be found at cleaninginstitue.org.

Remember that people with neurological disabilities such as dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are at high risk for accidental poisoning. Cleaners, medicines, pesticides and other poisonings should be locked up when not in use and supervised when in use.

We are here to remind you of some best practices for disinfecting. Remember that it is always a good idea to test on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure that the product you choose doesn’t damage the surface.
Bleach products:
  • Prepare a bleach solution using household bleach by mixing:
  • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) household bleach per gallon of water or
  • 4 teaspoons household bleach per quart of water
  • leave the solution on the surface for at least 1 minute
  • Never mix household bleach with ammonia, which creates a highly toxic fume. 
  • The EPA has listed Isopropyl alcohol & Ethyl alcohol as disinfectants effective against SARS-Cov-2 to be used on non-porous surfaces. 
  • Treatment of surfaces with Isopropyl alcohol should remain on surfaces for 5 minutes.
  • Treatment of surfaces with ethyl alcohol should remain on surfaces for 1 minute.
Disinfectant Sprays:
  • Do not spray disinfectants directly on clothes or face masks and immediately wear them. This will cause you to inhale the chemicals and can be hazardous to your health. 
  • The incorrect use of disinfectant sprays could cause material damage, only use on surfaces listed on the label. 
Reminder: Store all household and chemical products along with any potential poisons out of reach and out of sight of children and at risk adults.
New Year's comes but once a year, offering you a fresh start & by now you may have already fallen off your weight loss goals. Many people will jump on the fad diet bandwagon to try to quickly lose the extra pounds. According to the FDA, there are hundreds of products that are marketed as dietary supplements that contain hidden active ingredients or that contain ingredients that were once in drugs that have been removed from the market, and compounds that have not been adequately studied in humans. These products have the potential to cause negative health effects.
The Texas Poison Center Network would like to offer you the following tips that may help you make safer choices in reaching your weight loss goals!  

  • If a weight loss product sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Weight loss supplements, along with other types of dietary supplements, can be sold online, in stores, and through TV ads. 
  • Hidden ingredients are becoming a large problem for weight loss. These deceptive products can harm you!  Some diet fads are not only dangerous, but can even be deadly. 
  • One of the most dangerous aspects of diet pills is that they are not required by law to be tested by the FDA before they are released to the public, which means you may be taking products laced with varying quantities of untested or unstudied pharmaceutical ingredients or impurities.
  • In recent years, the FDA has identified hidden active ingredients such as stimulants, antidepressants, diuretics, seizure medications, and laxatives in common dietary supplements.
  • Diet pills often work in different ways. Some contain appetite suppressants, some claim to increase the rate of your metabolism and some claim to block the body's ability to absorb fat. 
Some known side effects of diet pills include: 
  • anxiety or nervousness
  • irritability, insomnia and a feeling of restlessness or hyperactivity
  • high blood pressure
  • tightness in the chest
  • heart palpitations
  • heart attack
  • stroke or congestive heart failure
  • digestive tract problems like vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or other
  • stomach pain
  • fever
  • dry mouth
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision
  • profuse sweating
  • hair loss
  • menstrual cycle and sex drive disturbances 
  • urinary tract problems

If you think someone is having a reaction to a dietary supplement, call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222!

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