Barium compounds are used in medical testing for X-ray evaluations; in printing, ceramics, plastics, textiles, and dyes; in fuel additives; in the production of glass, paints, paper, soap, and rubber; and in pesticides. Barium toxicity is relatively low unless there is ingestion of large amounts or aerosal exposure. Inhalation may cause short-term lung irritation. Accidental or intentional ingestion of barium may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. As barium becomes absorbed, it can displace potassium intracellularly and cause mild to severe effects in muscle tone, heart function, and the nervous system. Treatment with potassium and diuresis may reduce symptoms.

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Written by Elson M. Haas MD

Explore Wellness in 2021