The Most Deadly Things That Live In Your Medicine Cabinet

Infants explore the world using their mouths. Any parent of a small infant or toddler knows that almost everything goes into the mouth. Although frustrating at times, usually it is a benign way of discovering new items and helping to relive the pain from their erupting teeth. However, once in a while this relatively safe and healthy habit can result in a serious emergency. Unintentional ingestions account for more than one million pediatric emergency room visits per year. Over 85% of these cases are children under the age of 6. Although most unintentional ingestions are harmless, there are certain medications that can be deadly if even a small amount is ingested. It is important to identify these medications to keep them out of the reach of small children. Let’s get started!

Anti-depressants. Antidepressants are a common medication used not only for depression but also to help with other conditions such as chronic pain and migraine prophylaxis. Certain mood stabilizers known as tricyclic antidepressants can be extremely dangerous if even a small amount is ingested by a child. It can cause low blood pressure, arryhythmias, and seizures. It is important that if you are taking antidepressants, you know what class of drug you are taking and the risks. This is not a medication to carry in your bag. Please make sure to keep it stored in a secure place and out of the reach of your child.

Pre-natal Multivitamins. Particularly ones that contain iron supplementation, also contain varying minerals such as zinc, calcium, iron, iodine, choline, etc.  There is potential for harm if your child eats too many vitamins that contain iron. Children are more likely to have more than 1 or 2 tablets of iron because they are bright colored and sugar coated.  In fact, for children, iron overdose is a leading cause of poisoning-related injury and death.

Camphor.  Camphor is used for its anti-itch, moth repellant, cough suppressant, and muscle-soothing properties. It is found in products such as Tiger Balm, modern (nonnaphthalene) mothballs, Vicks- VapoRub, Bengay, and Mentholatum Ointment. If ingested, even small amounts, these products can be incredibly dangerous for small children. Ingestion can lead to delirium, hallucinations, seizures, and brain swelling. Please make sure these products are out of the reach of children!

Eucalyptus Oil. Eucalyptus oil is amazing for nasal congestion. However when ingested orally, it can lead to serious complications. Never leave the bottle out and if you are going to rub onto your child’s body, make sure to dilute it in water first.

Grandmother’s medications.  Grandparents are amazing but their medicine bags are not. Most elderly people are taking a lot of medications most of which are extremely dangerous to small children. Studies show the majority of emergency room visits due to ingestion of adult medications are from a grandparent. Please, if you have a grandparent living with you or visiting, make sure to take control over the administration and location of their medications. The nightside table and dresser is an extremely dangerous place to keep these potential life-threatening medications.

Blood Pressure/ Heart medications.  Even one pill can lead to dangerously low blood pressure, low heart rate, and arrhythmia. Symptoms might include lethargy, slurred speech, vomiting, and seizures.

Diabetic Medications.  These medications are used to bring the body’s blood sugar down. However, in a small child low blood sugar can lead to coma and death.

Medications for Delirium and Psychosis.  Antipsychotic drugs can be incredibly dangerous even if a small amount is ingested by a child.  Keep them out of reach of your children!


If you think there is a possibility that your child ingested something, please call 911 and then poison control. Poison Control is an amazing resource that all parents should know about. I hope this helps you with your journey!

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