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March 4, 2010 Volume 31, No. 22

Poisoning is preventable

Most cases of poisoning occur in children under 6, but the large majority of fatal poisonings happen to people 20 years of age and older, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. That’s why the theme for the 2010 National Poison Prevention Week, March 14-20, is “Poison Spans a Lifetime.”

For people over the age of 19, the most frequent poisoning-related substances include pain relievers, sedatives, antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants, says said Karen Funkenbusch, MU Extension safety specialist.

Older adults and others taking multiple medications may be at a higher risk for poisoning. The more medicines a person takes, the greater the risk of harmful side effects or drug interactions, Funkenbusch says.

The Missouri Poison Center in St. Louis offers these tips for preventing medication poisoning:

  • Follow your doctor’s or pharmacist’s directions for taking prescribed medicine. Read the information on usage and side effects.
  • Never mix different medications in one bottle.
  • Never add leftover medicine from one container to a new container.
  • Know which foods, drinks and medicines may interact if taken with your daily medication.
  • Take your medicines on a schedule and for the entire duration prescribed, even if you feel better.
  • Inform your doctor before you take an herbal or natural product, as they can interact with your prescribed medications.

For more information, see or call 1-800-222-1222.