(Mirror Daily, United States) – More than 23,000 Americans visit the ER because of dietary supplements each year, and at least 2,000 of those are hospitalized, according to a recent online study.

Dietary supplements include vitamins, herbs, minerals and other bio products, and they account for a lot visits to the emergency room. Researchers estimate the real number of people in need of medical assistance following a treatment with dietary supplements is actually even larger because many patients neglect to mention their supplement use when visiting the doctor.

Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the report has prompted some health advocates to call with renewed passion for stronger regulations on supplements. ER patients showed up with various symptoms, including heart palpitations and chest pain.

Based on a surveillance system from the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, researchers were able to collect reports from 63 hospitals between 2004 and 2013.

Study co-author Andrew Geller, a medical officer working in health care quality promotion at CDC, said that more often than not, supplement users aren’t aware that serious side effects can ensue from abusing the products. Most Americans turn to dietary supplements in order to keep healthy, but the potential harm they can do is usually overlooked.

In the study co-written by FDA researchers, unsupervised children were the subject of roughly 20 percent of supplement-related ER visits. The main reason for these visits is the lack of child-resistant packaging for most of the pills – with the exception of iron pills, regulation doesn’t require manufacturers to do so.

Even with the resistant packaging, iron supplements – which can be life-endangering to children in large doses – were still reported to be the second-most common cause of an ER visit for children. Apart from the children’s trips, the study revealed weight-loss products are the reason for 25 percent of cases, while 10 percent were related to energy supplements.

Unregulated supplements’ size is yet another reason for senior citizens to visit the ER; Geller explained that 38 percent of them needed medical assistance after a pill got stuck in the back of the throat, esophagus or windpipe.

The reason why so many consumers are unaware of the risk of taking too many supplements is because the manufacturers are not require to list possible side effects on the packaging, unlike companies that make over-the-counter drugs.

And seeing that, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, more than 150 million Americans use supplements – contributing to the $35 billion industry – this is an important issue that needs addressing.
Image Source: Psychiatrist Blog