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Current Top 10: 2020 Data

 
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The Specialists in Poison Information document every call received by the Ontario Poison Centre. This data:

  • Provides valuable information that can guide future treatment recommendations.
  • Allows the Ontario Poison Centre to identify emerging trends around substances causing harm.
  • Prevents unnecessary poisonous exposures and potential deaths.

The Ontario Poison Centre regularly determines "Top 10" lists, identifying the top ten most common types of exposures managed by the Specialists in Poison Information. Over time, these lists have changed, reflecting regulatory changes and other trends happening in Ontario. For instance, pain-relievers containing aspirin used to be one of the most common exposures until child-resistant packaging was introduced in the 1970s. Now, because of safer packaging and the availability of aspirin-free alternative pain relievers on the market, aspirin exposures rarely occur.

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Top 10 in 2020 - All Ages

1. Pain Relievers - Medicines that are given to relieve pain are the most common exposure that the Ontario Poison Centre deals with. These pain relievers are most commonly made of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

2. Sleeping Medicines - Many people take a pill to help them fall asleep. These medicines are commonly found in people's homes and are commonly involved in overdose situations.

3. Household Cleaners - Bleach, all-purpose cleaners, detergents and disinfectants are easily accessed and often not stored safely. The Poison Centre has seen an increase in calls about these exposures during the pandemic. See our poison prevention tips to learn about storing these products safely!

4. Antidepressant Medicines - These medicines are commonly prescribed for a variety of reasons.

5. Personal Care Products - This includes products like mouthwash, toothpaste, sunscreen, perfume, cosmetics, nail polish and nail polish removers.

6. Alcohols - These may include products such as regular drinking alcohol, rubbing alcohol, windshield washer fluid and antifreeze.

7. Heart and Blood Pressure Medicines - Medicines that are taken for certain heart conditions and to lower your blood pressure can be very dangerous if a young child gets into them by mistake, or if not taken as prescribed.

8. Stimulants and Street Drugs  - Stimulants, sometimes called “uppers”, temporarily increase alertness and energy. They are in a variety of street drugs, but can also be found in prescription medicines such as some used to treat ADHD. Not all street drugs are stimulants: some are depressants (“downers”), or hallucinogens. There is no established “safe” amount of consumption for street drugs.

9. Vitamins - Many people believe that vitamins are natural remedies and therefore cannot be toxic, but some vitamins can actually be very harmful if taken in a large quantity.

10. Anti-seizure medicines - Medicines to control seizure activity can be dangerous when taken incorrectly.

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Child with medicine

Top 10 in 2020 – Children ≤ 5 (age 5 or younger)

1. Household Cleaners  - Bleach, all-purpose cleaners, detergents and disinfectants are easily accessed and often not stored safely. The Poison Centre has seen an increase in calls about these exposures during the pandemic. See our poison prevention tips to learn about storing these products safely!

2. Personal Care Products  - Young children often try to taste toothpaste, creams, perfumes, and other personal care products/cosmetics.

3. Pain Relievers  - These medicines often contain ibuprofen or acetaminophen. They are commonly found in people’s homes and should be locked up with the rest of your family’s medicine.

4. Foreign Bodies - to Although these are not actually poisonous substances, they can still be hazardous due to the risk of choking or obstruction (becoming stuck during digestion).

5. Vitamins  - Make sure to teach young children that vitamins are medicine. Keep them locked up with the rest of your family’s medicine.

6. Plants  - Young children will often be tempted to bite into a leaf of a plant. Some are harmful and others are not. Know the names of all plants growing in and around your home. Visit the Plants section of our website to learn more.

7. Herbal & Homeopathic Remedies, Dietary Supplements - Remember: “natural” does not necessarily mean that it’s safe. Do not use these products without speaking with your doctor first, and keep them locked up with your other medicines.

8. Skin Creams  - There are many creams and ointments that are appealing to young children. These may include sore muscle rubs, steroid creams, wart removers and calamine lotions.

9. Pesticides - These substances are used to get rid of pests. Exposure to more dangerous pesticides is less frequent because of stronger regulation of these substances.

10. Stomach Remedies - These include products like laxatives, anti-diarrheal medicines, and antacids.

Child with medicine

Calling about her medicine

Top 10 in 2020 - Older Adults (age 60+)

1. Heart and Blood Pressure Medicines - Many seniors take medicine to manage heart conditions or to lower their blood pressure. When ingested in greater quantities than prescribed, these medicines can be very dangerous.

2. Pain Relievers - Medicines that are given to relieve pain are the most common exposure that the Ontario Poison Centre deals with. These pain relievers are most commonly made of acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

3. Sleeping Medicines - Many seniors take a pill to help them fall asleep. These medicines are commonly found in people's homes and are commonly involved in overdose situations.

4. Antidepressants  - These medicines are commonly prescribed for a variety of reasons. They can be dangerous if not taken properly (as prescribed by physician).

5. Household Cleaners  - Bleach, all-purpose cleaners, detergents and disinfectants are easily accessed and often not stored safely. The Poison Centre has seen an increase in calls about these exposures during the pandemic. See our poison prevention tips to learn about storing these products safely!

6. Hormones - Many seniors take medicine to help regulate their hormones. Mistakes in a medication regime can result in unintentional poisoning with these substances.

7. Personal Care Products  - This category includes products like denture cleaners, mouthwash, hand sanitizers and more.

8. Anti-seizure Medicines - Medicines to control seizure activity can be dangerous when taken incorrectly.

9. Stomach Remedies - These include products like laxatives, anti-diarrheal medicines, and antacids.

10. Alcohols  - These may include products such as regular drinking alcohol, rubbing alcohol, windshield washer fluid and antifreeze.

Calling about her medicine

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