Date: 
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The FDA recently sent out a warning for parents and the public: Children have been accidentally ingesting over-the-counter eye drops used to relieve redness and nasal decongestant sprays. Ingestion of these two products, even when in very small amounts, can result in serious and life-threatening events.

The eye drops and nasal sprays that have been involved in the cases of accidental ingestion contain the active ingredients tetrahydrozoline, oxymetazoline, or naphazoline. (The cases reviewed by FDA occurred in children 5 years of age and younger.) While no deaths were reported, serious events requiring hospitalization such as nausea, vomiting, lethargy, tachycardia, decreased respiration, bradycardia, hypotension, hypertension, sedation, somnolence, mydriasis, stupor, hypothermia, drooling, and coma have occurred.

Ingestion of only a small amount (1-2 mL; for reference, there are 5 mL in a teaspoon) of the eye drops or nasal spray can lead to serious adverse events in young children.

 Most of these redness-relief eye drops and nasal decongestant sprays currently do not come packaged with child-resistant closures, so children can accidentally ingest the drug if the bottles are within easy reach.

The FDA recommends that consumers 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 (1-800-222-1222) immediately. Experts are available all day, every day at these centers.

For more information from the FDA, click here.