Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The first step in treating all degrees of lead poisoning is to remove the source of the contamination. If you can't remove lead from your environment, you may at least be able to reduce the likelihood that it will cause problems. For instance, sometimes it's better to seal in rather than remove old lead paint. Your local health department can recommend ways to identify and reduce lead in your home and community.

For children and adults with relatively low lead levels, simply avoiding exposure to lead may be enough to reduce blood lead levels.

Treating higher levels

For more-severe cases, your doctor may recommend:

  • Chelation therapy. In this treatment, you take a medication that binds with the lead so that it's excreted in your urine.
  • EDTA therapy. Doctors treat adults with lead levels greater than 45 mcg/dL of blood with one or more of three drugs, most commonly a chemical called ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA). Depending on your lead level, you may need more than one treatment. In such severe cases, however, it may not be possible to reverse damage that has already occurred.

Children may need chelation therapy at lower levels than adults do.

Jun. 10, 2014

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