An already questionable habit seems to be spreading at an accelerated and an even unhealthier manner, as children are getting drunk on hand sanitizer more and more each year. The new statistic has drawn the worries of medical health professionals due to the increasing number of hospitalizations.
It was recently reported that 6-year-old Nhaijah Russell had purposefully ingested around four tablespoons of strawberry flavored hand sanitizer, which led her immediately to the hospital. Fortunately, the little girl survived, but it caused her to become gravely drunk, with a 0.179 blood-alcohol level. That is twice the legal limit for adults.
The little girl was reportedly barely able to walk, slurring her words, and her health was in grave danger due to other compounds found within the substance. The incident drew the attention of Georgia Poison Center, who gathered up the data on number of children, teenagers and adults who have been reported to partake in the dangerous threat.
In 2010, around 3,266 young children were taken to the hospital with high alcohol blood levels due to consumption of hand sanitizer. By 2014 though, the number lifted by 400%, and 16,117 cases were reported of alcohol intoxication due to the high content in the product that is normally meant to be used as a cleaning product.
Alcohol percentage in hand sanitizers can be between 45% to 95%, which is an incredibly high number that rivals hard liquors such as whiskey, absinthe, vodka or tequila. For example, the average beer has a 5% alcohol percentage.
Alcohol poisoning can have serious consequences beyond the intoxication that teenagers seem to seek through any means possible. It can cause vomiting, drowsiness, confusion, and with the acute cases, it may lead to seizures, hypothermia, cardiac arrest, liver injury, irregular heartbeat, and even coma. Young children, in particular, are more vulnerable.
According to Tanna Sawyer from the University of Kansas Hospital’s poison control center, it would take just one tablespoon of hand sanitizer to make a child highly intoxicated. The dangerous trend had reportedly started in Australia and then spread throughout the world within the past couple of years.
According to Dr. Gaylord Lopez, it’s growing in frequency, and kids don’t naturally believe it would be bad for them. The different scents of strawberries, grapes, oranges or others makes them highly appealing and seemingly innocent to young children.
And, some young people are getting more unfortunately creative with their methods of ingesting it, because hand sanitizer is cheap and legal for even underage teenagers. They are mixing it with Listerine, since mouthwash contains even more alcohol, or mixing it with salt to separate the gel from the alcohol and turn it into a drinkable liquid form. It’s called ‘Mr. Clean’s Tears’ when all three ingredients are mixed together for a “hand sanity fix”.
Dr. Lopez recommends that parents more often buy their children wipes or resort to non-alcohol based hand sanitizers, in order to make sure young kids or teenagers do not resort to other uses.
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