Hospitals around the nation are treating young children and teenagers for the ingestion of laundry pods, a dissolvable packet containing laundry detergent, softener and other soaps you can drop right into your washing machine. Children are mistaking these colorful packets for candy, while teenagers are participating in the “Tide Pod Challenge,” a fad that dares others to eat laundry pods for fun. No matter the age or reason, these laundry pods have severe side effects when ingested. Any person who has been exposed to opened laundry pods should seek medical help immediately.
When a person bites into a laundry pod, side effects can vary from chemical burns to far more dangerous complications. These pods contain irritating chemicals, such as bleach and stain removers, which can cause significant burns to the skin, mouth, esophagus and stomach. The biggest danger of laundry pods is caused when someone inhales the chemicals into their lungs. This could cause swelling of the lungs, leaving the person unable to breathe. Another potential injury is scarring of the esophagus, which would prevent the person from being able to eat or drink.
Physicians are encouraging adults to place laundry pods out of the reach of children. If you suspect a child or teenager has ingested laundry pods, be sure they seek medical help immediately. Side effects may not appear immediately, but exposure to these pods could be still be life threatening.
If you or someone you love has ingested a laundry pod, do not delay transportation to the Emergency Department. Lauren Elliott, Quality Follow-Up Nurse at NARMC, recommends calling the Poison Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 while in route. If possible, have the label and amount consumed accessible for reference.