Dangers of eye drops and nasal sprays

eye-dropsKeep eye drops and nasal sprays out of the hands of children. The FDA is warning healthcare professionals and the public that accidental ingestion by children of over-the-counter eye drops used to relieve redness and nasal decongestant sprays can result in serious and life-threatening adverse 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 of accidental ingestion reviewed by FDA occurred in children 5 years of age and younger. No deaths were reported; however, serious events requiring hospitalization, including 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. These products are sold under various brand names, as generics, and as store brands (see List of Products, included in the Drug Safety Communication, at this link.)

RECOMMENDATION: Consumers should store these products out of reach of children at all times. If a child accidentally swallows these eye drops or nasal decongestant spray, call the National Capital Poison Center (1-800-222-1222) and seek emergency medical care immediately.

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