Nonprescription Medication Overdose In Children

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Nonprescription Medication Overdose In Children (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

Nonprescription medication is also called over-the-counter (OTC) medicine. A prescription is not needed to buy OTC medicine. A medicine overdose occurs when more medicine is taken than is safe to take. A medicine overdose may be mild, or it may be a life-threatening emergency. OTC medicine is generally safe for your child when it is taken correctly.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child.

RISKS:

High doses of OTC medicine may be very harmful to your child. Large amounts of acetaminophen may cause liver damage and liver failure. An overdose of cough and cold medicine may cause seizures and other life-threatening side effects. An overdose of NSAIDs may cause stomach bleeding. Alcohol is used in some OTC medicines. If your child has an overdose of OTC medicine, he may also have an alcohol overdose. Alcohol overdose may increase the chance of liver damage and stomach bleeding.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that your child may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your child's medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done to your child. Make sure all of your questions are answered.

Intake and output:

Caregivers may need to know how much liquid your child is getting and urinating. Your child may need to urinate into a container in bed or in the toilet. A caregiver will measure the amount of urine. If your child wears diapers, a caregiver may need to weigh them. Do not throw away diapers or flush urine down the toilet before asking a caregiver.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your child's vein that is used to give him medicine or liquids.

Oxygen:

Your child may need oxygen if his blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. Oxygen will help your child breathe easier. Your child may get oxygen through small tubes placed in his nostrils, or through a mask. He may instead be placed in an oxygen tent. Never take off your child's oxygen tubes or mask or remove him from the tent without asking his caregiver first.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your child's blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask you or your child about his pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your child's current health.

Nasogastric tube:

A nasogastric tube is also known as an NG tube. It is a tube that runs from your child's nose to his stomach. The tube may be attached to suction to remove the medicine from your child's stomach. Your child may also be given medicine through this tube, such as activated charcoal.

Tests:

  • Blood gases are also called arterial blood gases (ABGs). Blood is taken from an artery, usually in your child's wrist. ABGs may be done if your child has trouble breathing or other problems caused by his illness.

  • Blood tests may be needed to give caregivers more information about your child's condition. Your child may need to have blood drawn more than once. If you do not know which medicine your child took, blood tests may be able to show which medicine is in his body. For example, blood tests may be done to check for acetaminophen in your child's body. Your child's caregiver may also do blood tests to check his liver.

  • An EKG test records your child's heart rhythm and how fast his heart beats. It is used to check for changes or problems in different areas of the heart.

Treatment for a mild nonprescription medication overdose:

  • Activated charcoal is a medicine that may be in the form of a powder or liquid. Caregivers may give activated charcoal to your child if he has swallowed too much medicine. Activated charcoal helps soak up the medicine that is still in your child's stomach. Your child may vomit when given activated charcoal.

  • Emetics are medicines that cause your child to vomit. Vomiting may help remove the medicine from your child's stomach, so less is absorbed by his body.

  • Gastric lavage is sometimes called having your stomach pumped. Caregivers clean out your child's stomach to get rid of as much medicine as they can.

  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an antidote. It stops the effect of some types of medicine in your child's body. NAC may prevent some of the problems caused by your child's overdose. It can be given as medicine that your child swallows or through an IV.

Treatment for a severe or life-threatening nonprescription medication overdose:

  • Anticonvulsants are given to stop seizures that may be caused by a medicine overdose.

  • Sedatives may help keep your child calm and relaxed if he is upset or agitated (easily angered).

  • Vasopressors help constrict (narrow) the blood vessels and increase your child's blood pressure. These may be needed if the medicine overdose caused your child's blood pressure to go lower than it should.

  • A ventilator is a machine that gives your child oxygen and breathes for him when he cannot breathe well on his own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your child's mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. He may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into his windpipe.

  • A liver transplant may be needed if your child's liver is badly damaged by a medicine overdose. This is surgery to replace your child's damaged liver with a healthy donor liver.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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