After seeing a rise in teenage overdose hospitalizations in 2021, Sanford Health sharing awareness

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There’s a trend Dr. Abigail Polzin doesn’t want to see continuing in 2022 in Sanford Health’s emergency department. 

In 2020, Sanford’s emergency department admitted 66 pediatric ingestion overdoses. That number increased in 2021 and is just shy of 80 ahead of the final two weeks of the year. 

“It has been going up,” Polzin, an emergency medicine specialist, told KELOLAND News. “There were half as many that were admitted for recreational overdoses. A lot of them were intentional and that’s what we’re seeing.” 

Polzin said Sanford sees more intentional ingestions in youth over the age of six. 

“Some of this has been touted on social media and there’s been several TikTok challenges or Instagram posts talking about ways to get high or to experiment with common household medication,” Polzin said. “There is a huge need to address mental health needs in our teens. Kids have just a lot of emotions and there’s a lot of things going on.” 

Polzin said the main medications Sanford is worried about teens overdosing on are common household drugs like tylenol, benadryl, aspiration, blood pressure medications, diabetes medications and pain medications. 

Many of the teenagers coming into the emergency rooms after overdosing have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, Polzin said. She added mental health admissions of all ages into the emergency room increased at Sanford in 2021. 

“A lot of this is normal human emotions and maybe teens haven’t seen other people modeling healthy ways to deal with these normal emotions,” Polzin said. “Maybe they don’t feel like they have anybody to talk to. There’s a lot of options but it’s being mindful of what’s going on with the teen.” 

Polzin said accident ingestions are most common for children younger than six. 

“Like Grandma is visiting and left her pill bottle out,” Polzin said. “Under age six, it’s usually ‘I found this and I thought it was candy.’ Just one pill can cause some serious health problems.” 

For any questions or concerns about possible poison, Polzin said parents should first call the 24-hour national poison control phone number at 1-800-222-1222. You can also learn more about the Sanford Poison Center on its joint website with the South Dakota Department of Health.

“For the younger age groups, these are really preventable,” Polzin said. “Height, locked cabinets, child-proof pill bottles, those kinds of things.”

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