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Lead: About This Test

What is it?

This test measures the amount of lead in your blood. It is usually done on blood taken from a vein in your arm. Too much lead in your blood can cause a stomach ache, muscle weakness, and tiredness.

Why is this test done?

Testing for lead is done to:

  • Diagnose lead poisoning.
  • See how well treatment for lead poisoning is working.
  • Look for lead poisoning in people who work with lead or lead products or who live in places where the chance of poisoning is high, such as in a large city.
  • Check for the amount of lead in people who live with or play with children who have lead poisoning.

How do you prepare for the test?

  • In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor if you are using any natural health products.

How is the test done?

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

What happens after the test?

  • You will probably be able to go home right away.
  • You can go back to your usual activities right away.
  • Results are usually available within 1 week.
  • If the test shows high levels of lead, your doctor will want you to have another test. How soon you will need to be retested will depend on how much lead is in your blood. If the level of lead is only slightly high, you may be retested in a month. If it is very high, your doctor may want to repeat the test within a few days.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if you have any problems.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.