Ingestion of over-the-counter eye drops and decongestant sprays can result in serious and life-threatening illness says the FDA.
The FDA identified 96 cases of children ingesting products containing those ingredients reported between 1985 and October 2012. Cases reviewed by the agency involved children 5 years old and younger that were either chewing or sucking on the bottles, or were found with an empty bottle next to them.
No deaths were reported; however, serious events requiring hospitalization such as nausea, vomiting, lethargy, rapid heart rate, trouble breathing, hypothermia, and coma have occurred.
Eye drops and nasal sprays that contain the active ingredients tetrahydrozoline, oxymetazoline, or naphazoline are thought to be the cuprits.
Tetrahydrozoline is found in Visine Original, Walgreens Redness Reliever Advanced Eye Ophthalmic Solution and other products, while naphazoline is found in All Clear Ophthalmic Solution, Naphcon A Ophthalmic Solution and other products. Oxymetazoline is found in nasal spray brands including Afrin, Dristan and Sudafed sprays.
Ingestion of only a small amount, such as 1/5 of a teaspoon can cause serious complications.
Consumers should store these products out of reach of children at all times. If a child accidentally swallows OTC redness-relief eye drops or nasal decongestant spray, call your local poison control center.
The agency says parents should also practice safety when storing medications and potentially harmful substances. More than 60,000 young children end up in emergency departments every year because they got into medicines while their parent or caregiver was not looking, according to the nonprofit Up and Away and Out of Sight.
Tips to reduce risk include storing medications in safe locations too high for children to reach, never leaving pills or vitamins out on counters, re-locking safety caps, not taking medication in front of children (as they like to imitate adults) and reminding guests to put purses, bags or coats away and out of sight when visiting homes with children.