Iron poisoning

15 March 2018
Comments: 0
15 March 2018, Comments: 0

Iron poisoning develops if an individual ingested many pills that contain iron, usually vitamins.

An acute case of iron poisoning involves children younger than 6 years who swallowed pediatric or adult vitamins that include iron.

What are the indications of iron poisoning?

The signs of iron poisoning are generally obvious within 6 hours after swallowing excessive amounts of iron. It is important to note that iron disintegrates the intestinal lining and considered as a stomach irritant.

An adult or child might have the following signs:

  • Diarrhea
  • Severe vomiting
  • Stomach pain

    Iron poisoning

    The signs of iron poisoning are generally obvious within 6 hours after swallowing excessive amounts of iron.

  • Dehydration along with lethargy if not promptly treated

The stool or vomit of the child might be streaked with blood. If supportive care is provided, the digestive symptoms seem to improve within 6-24 hours after their onset. If the poisoning is not correctly treated, it can progress to shock and even death.


Once the individual ensures that the child is breathing normally, the entire bowel is cleansed with a strong laxative fluid.

In severe cases of iron poisoning, it necessitates IV chelation therapy. This involves the administration of deferoxamine mesylate which binds to iron in the cells and eliminated as urine.

Orogastric lavage or pumping of the stomach might be considered but only useful if carried out within an hour of ingesting the iron pills.

Preventive measures

  • Make sure that all medications are stored in an area that is out of reach of children.
  • Child-proof caps or covers are not an assurance that children are safe.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on iron poisoning is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Victoria, Surrey, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Red Deer, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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