Lead poisoning is a condition, characterized by increased levels of lead in the body. Such a phenomenon causes development of incapacitating symptoms, which can turn life threatening, if treatment is not initiated on time.
Signs and symptoms of lead poisoning are not evident, unless large amounts of lead have been accumulated. Children and adults present with different signs of lead poisoning.
Children, who have developed lead poisoning, suffer from abdominal pain, hearing loss, irritability, developmental delay, loss of appetite, due to which weight loss sets in, fatigue and sluggishness. In addition, affected children would also exhibit learning difficulties, and can also suffer from constipation and vomiting .
Adults with lead poisoning suffer from abdominal pain, high blood pressure, muscle and joint aches, headache and decline in mental functioning, characterized by mood disorders, and memory loss. Adults also show signs of numbness, and tingling sensation in the extremities. Lead poisoning can also affect the functioning of the reproductive system in adults, which can cause poor sperm motility, decreased sperm count, and frequent miscarriages and premature birth .
Lead poisoning can be detected by blood tests, to check for levels of lead in the blood. Based on the criteria, lead levels beyond 5µg/dl are known to be dangerous for children, and they should be closely monitored. Those children with high levels of lead, of more than 45µg/dl or more should receive prompt treatment.
Countries with high lead exposure should have the children aged 1 to 2 years be regularly monitored for the blood levels of lead. Such a practice could prevent the irreversible damages of lead from developing .
For mild cases of lead poisoning, reducing the exposure to lead can significantly bring down the blood levels. In case of severe poisoning, the following measures can be adopted to treat the condition:
Based on the blood levels of lead, individuals may require combination of treatment, to prevent further damage to the body. However, it is seldom possible to reverse the effects of lead .
If children are affected by lead poisoning, then it can have debilitating complications. It can lead to permanent irreversible damages on brain functioning of the children. In adults, mild levels of lead poisoning can get corrected by themselves.
In severe cases, adults suffer from poor functioning of the nerves and muscles. Complete recovery may take several months or years, and certain individuals may even suffer permanent damage to brain functioning .
Lead is naturally found in earth’s crust, and is also widely used in pottery, solder, batteries, pipes, roofing materials and certain cosmetics. In the past, lead was a major component in paint and gasoline .
In addition, the various other sources of lead include soil, water, household dust, traditional cosmetics and toys. Traditional remedies such as Daw tway, Ba-baw-san, Litargiro, Ghasard and greta also contain lead in them, which when consumed, can cause lead poisoning .
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, for adults and children, the elevated blood levels have been given to be about 10µg/dl and 5µg/dl of whole blood respectively. As per the statistics provided by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), about 3 million workers in US are exposed to lead in workplace . It was also revealed that about 9% of children, between the age group of 1 to 5 years had blood levels of lead more than 10µg/dl.
Lead is introduced into the body through the method of inhalation and ingestion. In rare cases, the metal also gains entry into the body through skin contact. Studies have reported that in about 35 to 40% of cases, the lead that is inhaled through dust, gets deposited in lungs, and in 90% cases, the lead enters the blood stream. Lead creates radically active chemicals, which damage the DNA and cell membranes. Such sequence of events interferes with various body processes, causing severe damage to the functioning of the nervous system, and other body organs .
The following measures can be taken to prevent lead poisoning :
Lead is a type of metal which is a source of strong poison. Lead poisoning develops when an individual either accidentally, or deliberately, consumes objects containing lead, or breathes in lead dust. This causes lead to get accumulated in the body, which gradually causes poisoning to set in. Young children aged below 6 years are more prone to contract this condition .
Definition: Lead poisoning is a condition, defined as more than 45µg/dl of lead in the blood. Such a type of condition can gravely interfere with the function of various body organs and nervous system. If the condition is not promptly treated, it can cause irreversible damages.
Cause: Exposure to lead either through inhalation, or ingestion, can cause lead poisoning to develop. The various sources of lead include contaminated water, soil, pottery, dust, traditional cosmetics and painted toys.
Symptoms: Symptoms of lead poisoning include headache, abdominal pain, developmental delay in children, poor functioning of the nervous system, tingling sensation in the extremities, constipation, weight loss, hearing loss and fatigue.
Diagnosis: Lead poisoning is diagnosed through blood tests, to check the levels of lead. In addition, other tests may also be performed, to assess the functioning of the body organs that have been affected.
Treatment: Mildly elevated levels of lead seldom require any treatment. In severe cases, lead poisoning is treated through chelation therapy, and EDTA therapy. Certain individuals may require combination of therapies to treat the poisoning.