Lead Poisoning

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Lead poisoning happens when you have dangerous levels of lead in your blood. It commonly happens from the accidental inhalation or ingestion of items that contain lead. Lead is found in paint, batteries, and gasoline fumes. Lead is easily absorbed and can cause nervous system damage.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Left untreated, lead poisoning may cause long-term mental and physical problems, and become life-threatening. Severe poisoning can cause seizures and coma.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Intake and output:

Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

  • Iron: This medicine may be given to treat anemia, which can be caused by lead poisoning.

  • Vitamins and minerals: Calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D can help decrease blood levels of lead.

  • Anticonvulsant medicine: This medicine is given to control seizures. Take this medicine exactly as directed.

  • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.

    • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.

    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.

  • Steroids: This medicine may be given to treat swelling in the brain caused by the lead.

Tests:

  • Blood tests: Your blood may be tested for lead, or signs of lead poisoning, such as anemia (low red blood cells).

  • Abdominal x-ray: This picture of your abdomen may show where the lead is, if it was swallowed.

Treatment:

Chelation therapy will bind with lead in the blood so it can be removed through your urine and bowel movement. These may be given as a pill or through an IV. You may need to drink more liquids than usual. Ask your caregiver how much more to drink each day, and which liquids to drink.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Lead Poisoning (Inpatient Care)

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