Iron overdose

Alternative names 
Ferrous sulfate (Feosol, Slow Fe); Ferrous gluconate (Fergon); Ferrous fumarate (Femiron, Feostat)

Definition
Poisoning from an overdose of iron.

Poisonous Ingredient

     
  • iron

Where Found
iron supplements:

     
  • ferrous sulfate (Feosol, Slow Fe)  
  • ferrous gluconate (Fergon)  
  • ferrous fumarate (Femiron, Feostat)  
  • mineral supplements  
  • vitamin/mineral supplements

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.

Symptoms

     
  • body as a whole       o dehydration       o low blood sugar       o accumulation of fluids in the lungs       o fever  
  • skin       o bluish colored lips and fingernails       o pallor  
  • gastrointestinal       o vomiting blood       o diarrhea       o tarry stools       o nausea       o scarring of stomach and bowels in serious cases       o metallic taste  
  • heart and blood vessels       o low blood pressure       o fast and weak pulse       o flushing  
  • nervous system       o drowsiness       o lack of desire to do anything       o dizziness       o headache       o chills       o shock       o coma (may occur within 1/2 to 1 hour after ingestion)

Note: Symptoms may clear in a few hours, then return after 24 hours or more.

Home Treatment
Contact Poison Control for appropriate treatment.

Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:

     
  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • the name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known)  
  • the time it was swallowed  
  • the amount swallowed  
  • if the medication was prescribed for the patient

Poison Control, or a local emergency number
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the person to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

     
  • Induce emesis.  
  • Draw blood to determine the serum iron levels.  
  • Use gastric lavage.  
  • Give an antidote if needed.  
  • Take an X-ray to make sure all tablets were removed from the stomach.  
  • Treat the symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis)
Death may occur even a week after ingestion of the iron, but if the patient is symptom-free after 48 hours, recovery is likely.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by David A. Scott, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.