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Iron overdose

Alternative names

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.


  • body as a whole
    • dehydration
    • low blood sugar
    • accumulation of fluids in the lungs
    • fever
  • skin
    • bluish colored lips and fingernails
    • pallor
  • gastrointestinal
    • vomiting blood
    • diarrhea
    • tarry stools
    • nausea
    • scarring of stomach and bowels in serious cases
    • metallic taste
  • heart and blood vessels
    • low blood pressure
    • fast and weak pulse
    • flushing
  • nervous system
    • drowsiness
    • lack of desire to do anything
    • dizziness
    • headache
    • chills
    • shock
    • 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.

Update Date: 2/12/2004

Cherlin Johnson, M.D., Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT