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Lead

How It Feels

Blood sample from a heel stick

A brief pain, like a sting or a pinch, is usually felt when the lancet punctures the skin. Your baby may feel a little discomfort with the skin puncture.

Blood sample from a vein

The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

Heel stick

There is very little chance of a problem from a heel stick. A small bruise may develop at the site.

Blood test

There is very little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from a vein.

  • You may get a small bruise at the site. You can lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used several times a day to treat this.
  • Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood sample is taken.

Results

This test measures the amount of lead in the blood. Lead is a poisonous (toxic) metal that can damage the brain and other parts of the body. A small amount is present in most people.

The reference values listed here are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other things. This means that a value that falls outside the reference values listed here may still be okay for you.

Results are usually available within 1 week.

Your doctor will likely want to do more evaluation and another blood lead level test if:1, 2

What Affects the Test

You may not be able to have the test or the results may not be helpful if your skin is contaminated with lead. Low levels of lead can be found almost anywhere, including on the skin.

What To Think About

  • Timed urine tests may be done to check the amount of lead in urine and/or to keep track of the amount of lead being removed from your body during chelation therapy.
  • The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires companies to test the blood of employees who work with lead. Results need to be reported to the local health department if 2 or more blood lead levels are above 10 mcg/dL. To learn more, see OSHA's website at www.osha.gov.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 26, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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