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Oil of wintergreen dangers.

Oil of wintergreen may seem safe, but it can be lethal if ingested by a child. It is a concentrated source of methyl salicylate, a first cousin to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). One teaspoon of oil of wintergreen contains the same amount of salicylate as 21-325 milligram aspirin tablets (one adult aspirin tablet has 325 milligrams of salicylate). Because the salicylate is so concentrated, it is absorbed into the blood stream much faster than if 21 aspirin tablets were swallowed.

A recent case-report illustrates Just how deadly this substance can be. A two-year-old girl was brought to the emergency department because she had taken "just a sip' of oil of wintergreen. She had vomited at home. On arrival she seemed stable and was treated with activated charcoal to neutralize the salicylate. She was admitted to the intensive care unit and treated appropriately. Despite this, she quickly became lethargic and died before dialysis to remove the salicylate from her bloodstream could be started.

If your child ingests this potent poison, don't waste any time in getting him to the hospital. If you have ipecac at home give it to him. Don't be fooled by a child who acts normal after drinking the oil of wintergreen. He can become lethargic and die quickly.

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Publication:Pediatrics for Parents
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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