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Iron Toxicity Symptoms & Side Effects

Iron toxicity often occurs in children under the age of 5 years. Iron is a mineral that is essential for the formation of red blood cells. If the intake is less, the formation of red blood cells will be disrupted resulting in anemia. In children 3 years of age, the iron around 7 mg / day in the form of "elemental iron". Toxicity can occur when eating iron in a very large amount at one time or giving a blood transfusion in the long run continuously as in patients with thalassemia. Iron needs to be given to premature babies, children with anemia and children whose diet is deficient in iron. The provision of appropriate short-term iron dose will not cause intoxication, but long-term use should be under a doctor's instructions.


The level of iron toxicity, depending on how much iron into the body. Children may show signs of toxicity after ingestion of 10-20 mg / kg of elemental iron tablets. Severe toxicity can occur when children consume more than 60 mg / kg of elemental iron tablets.

Iron toxicity is the cause of fatal poisoning in children younger than 5 years. High iron levels irritate the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, so sometimes cause bleeding. Within a few hours, of iron into the body's cells and interfere with chemical reactions in it. Within a few days, can damage the liver. A few weeks after recovery, can form scar tissue due to previous irritation of the stomach, gastrointestinal tract, and liver.

Signs & Symptoms

Severe iron toxicity usually cause symptoms within 6 hours.
  • In the first phase (within 6 hours after the overdose), symptoms include: vomiting, vomiting blood, diarrhea, abdominal pain, irritability, and drowsiness. In case of severe poisoning, there can be an increase in respiratory rate and heart rate, decreased blood pressure, the patient becomes unconscious, seizures, and even coma.
  • In the second phase (6-48 hours after the overdose), the condition of the patient may seem to be improving (latent period).
  • In third stage (12-48 hours after the overdose) could decrease very low blood pressure (shock), fever, bleeding, janudice, liver failure, and seizures.
  • In the fourth stage (2-5 days after the overdose) liver failure and patients can die of shock, bleeding, and blood clotting disorders. The level of sugar in the blood may drop. Patients can become lethargic, confused, and even loss of consciousness and coma.
  • In fifth stage (2-5 weeks after overdose), stomach or intestine can become clogged due to scar tissue. Scar tissue that forms in other organs can cause abdominal pain and vomiting. The formation of scar tissue in the liver severe (cirrhosis) also may occur later.

Side effects

1. Digestive problems: Excess consumption of iron supplements will trigger a variety of stomach problems such as:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Stomach ache
  • Diarrhea
Iron is potentially corrode the lining of the intestine that causes ulceration. After taking the supplement, one common complaint that arises is that the dark-colored stools due to lack of iron absorption. Although harmless, if this condition occurs repeatedly advised to consult with a doctor.

2. Color change: Excess iron supplements can also cause:
  • Discoloration of teeth
  • The color blue appears in the lips, palms, and nails
3. Skin Problems: Side effects of iron overload also lead to skin disorders such as:
  • itch
  • rash
  • Pale and sweaty
  • Swelling of the mouth or throat

Other side effects
Some other side effects were observed, including fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, blood clots, and hair loss. Irregular heartbeat, drowsiness, and weakness may also occur.

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