Saturday, May 7, 2011

Children and Camphor Poisoning. Of Extreme Importance to Parents

It was yesterday that I got a shock when I called India. A very close relative's child of 2 years while happily playing suddenly fell silent, showed difficulty in breathing, vomited and had convulsions and tremors on the right side, froth at the mouth and simply showed a glazed look, did not speak and showed no recognition of people. They rushed her to the hospital and by the Grace of God had a helpful neighbor who drove their car and called in the hospital in advance of the emergency. The child had become almost silent and still by the time they reached the hospital. A pediatrician was waiting and asked the grandparent who was with the child if the child had been given any tablets or had consumed camphor. The grandparent remembered the child playing with a box of camphor and trying to swallow a piece when she was asked to spit it out, but did not catch the child repeating it again. The doctor asked her if the tremors that the child showed were on the right side and the answer was yes. The child was instantly put on oxygen and taken into the emergency room. She was put on intravenous fluid ( saline drip) and in half and hour showed consciousness and immediately complained about the drip and tried to snatch it away, this time much to the joy of the grandparents and parents around her because the child was back to her usual mischievous feisty self.! 
This was quite a scare for everyone and a revelation that the innocuous camphor could be  deadly enough to cause death.
I am attaching a link to this article and pasting an extract for the benefit of anyone and everyone with children and also for those who like to keep themselves informed. Information of this kind is life saving.
Camphor Poisoning Symptoms 

    • Camphor oil has many medicinal effects. It is considered to be an effective analgesic, a stimulant and a laxative. It is an anti-depressant, an anti-inflammatory agent and an antiseptic. However regardless of these medicinal effects, camphor can be harmful. In an article published in Pediatrics, May 2009, by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, it states, "Scientists have known for some time that camphor can cause serious health problems, including seizures."
Research Study
    • According to researchers of a new study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University entitled "Children Vulnerable to Toxic Effects of Camphor-Containing Products" published in Pediatrics, May 2009. "Inappropriate use of camphor or camphor-containing products may be a common cause of seizures in young children." The study calls for efforts to educate communities about the hazards of camphor and to stop the illegal marketing of camphor products.
Allergic Reaction
    • An allergic reaction to any drug is a medical emergency; seek medical attention immediately. The signs of an allergic reaction to camphor include itching, hives and shortness of breath or tightness in the chest, along with swelling of the face, mouth and tongue.
    • Exposure to the toxic fumes of camphor should be avoided, especially by people suffering from seizure disorders. Camphor should never be taken orally; this could cause tachycardia, urinary retention and albuminuria (the presence of protein in the urine), along with elevation of liver enzymes. Camphor toxicity can develop in five to 15 minutes. This is a life-threatening emergency. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and burning in the mouth and intestines, later leading to confusion, hallucination and convulsions.

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