Characteristics of Iron Toxicity and Dangers In Children

Iron is one of the essential nutrients involved in metabolic processes and forms hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to the organs and tissues of the body. If you do not have enough daily iron intake, then you will easily feel tired and sick. However, iron poisoning can happen when iron builds up too much in the body - whether intentional or not. Iron poisoning is a medical emergency and is very dangerous, especially in children. The toxic effects will get worse over time and may lead to death.

Characteristics of Iron Toxicity and Dangers In Children
Characteristics of Iron Toxicity and Dangers In Children

What causes iron poisoning?

There are several things that can cause iron poisoning, among them;

1. Overdose
Acute iron poisoning usually results from an accidental overdose. Most of these cases occur in children under 5 years of age, because they inadvertently consume iron supplements or adult multivitamins.

2. Excess iron content
Excess amounts of iron in the body are also known as chronic iron poisoning. The causes include recurrent blood transfusions to treat anemia, excessive iron therapy (either intravenously or with supplements), and liver diseases such as chronic hepatitis C or alcoholic hepatitis.

3. Genetic factors
Excess iron levels can occur naturally due to certain diseases. One example is hereditary hematocromatosis, which is a genetic condition that causes the process of absorption of iron from food unnaturally.

Symptoms of iron poisoning based on the stages of time
Iron poisoning usually causes symptoms within 6 hours of overdose and may affect different parts of the body, such as the respiratory tract, lungs, stomach, intestines, heart, blood, liver, skin, and nervous system.

Symptoms can be divided into five stages:

1. Stage 1 (0-6 hours)
Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anxiety, and drowsiness. In serious cases it may cause rapid breathing, palpitations, fainting, convulsions, and low blood pressure.

2. Phase 2 (6-48 hours)
Common symptoms of the first stage will get worse.

3. Stage 3 (12-48 hours)
Further symptoms that may occur are shock, fever, bleeding, jaundice (discoloration of skin / white to yellow), liver failure, excess acid in the blood, and seizures.

4. Stage 4 (2-5 days)
Symptoms can include liver failure, bleeding, blood clotting disorders, respiratory problems, even death. Other symptoms that may occur include decreased blood sugar levels, decreased consciousness, or coma.

5. Stage 5 (2-5 weeks)
The formation of scar tissue in the stomach or intestines, causing obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract, abdominal cramps, pain, and vomiting.

How do doctors diagnose iron poisoning?

Early diagnosis and treatment is very important. Blood and urine tests, including tests to check iron levels should be done quickly in order to deliver the right results. The diagnosis of iron poisoning is usually based on a medical history, current symptoms, acidity levels in the blood, and levels of iron amount in a person's body.

In order for your doctor to establish a diagnosis, you need to let your doctor know about any medications and supplements you are currently taking, including non-prescription drugs, herbal supplements, and vitamins. As much as possible be as clear as possible with your doctor about what you consume. Some supplements, such as vitamin C supplements, can increase the absorption of iron in the body. Pills or supplements that cause iron poisoning can sometimes be seen with x-rays.

How to deal with iron poisoning?

The first aid phase of iron poisoning is by stabilizing the condition of the body, including respiratory problems and blood pressure. Subsequent treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms, such as the doctor can perform cleansing the digestive tract by irrigation to remove excess iron as quickly as possible so as to reduce toxic effects on the body.

Serious toxicity requires the therapy of iron chelation by infusion. Sailor iron therapy uses a chemical that can bind iron in the cells and dispose of it from the body through the urine. If you suspect your child of accidentally ingesting iron supplements, call your doctor immediately or take your child to the emergency department.
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What can be done to prevent iron poisoning

You can prevent the occurrence of iron poisoning in your child by storing drugs or iron supplements where your kids can not reach and also tell your child that unknown drugs or supplements are not candies and may be harmful to the body.

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