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Lead Poisoning

July 5th, 2013 | Posted by Ibrar in Poisons

Lead PoisoningThis is a medical condition that occurs in humans and other vertebrates when heavy metal lead builds up in the body over a period of months or years. This interferes with a variety of processes and affects vital organs in the body like kidneys, heart, reproductive and nervous systems. Lead poisoning is especially rampant in children under the age of six years where it can severely affect their physical and mental development but sometimes become fatal.

Lead as a natural metal, is commonly available and is used in construction materials. However, long term exposure to it can cause serious health complications especially to unborn and young children because it is toxic and their growing body makes them more susceptible to absorbing and retaining lead. Exposure to high amounts of lead in adults too may cause lead poisoning.

Signs and symptoms

Babies who get exposed to lead before birth usually experience slowed growth and learning difficulties whereas in young children symptoms of lead poisoning include: loss of appetite, weight loss, abdominal pain, vomiting, irritability, constipation, sluggishness and fatigue. In adults however, one with lead poisoning exhibits high blood pressure, pain, numbness, decline in mental functioning, headaches, muscular weakness, memory loss, abdominal pain, reduced sperm count,  in case of a pregnant woman, premature birth or miscarriage.

Contributing factors

Several factors have contributed to the increase in lead poisoning in different parts of the world. These include age. For instance, infants and young children stand the highest risk of exposure to lead poisoning through chewing paint chips and touching lead dust during play. Living in an older home increases the chances of lead poisoning too, and certain hobbies like refinishing of old furniture might put one into contact with lead and finally, most developing countries usually have less strict rules with regard to lead exposure.

Treatment

When one wants to treat any degree of lead poisoning, it is prudent to first remove the source of the contamination. Remove the likelihood of it causing problems in case one cannot remove lead from the environment. A local health department can recommend ways of reducing lead in the community. Avoid exposure to lead especially in children. For severe cases, doctor may recommend. Besides, to help in protecting one and family from lead poisoning, apply the following simple measures: regular hand washing, cleaning of dusty surfaces, don’t attempt to remove the lead paint by sanding, don’t remove an open-flame torch to remove paint and covering an old paint by painting over an old lead paint as opposed to removing it.

It is important to note that exposure to even low levels of lead can cause damage over a given period of time more so in children. The greatest risk may be to the brain development where an irreversible damage may be caused by lead poisoning. Nonetheless, in both children and adults, lead poisoning can cause damage to the nervous system and the kidneys. Very high levels of lead are known to have caused unconsciousness, seizures and death. Simple protective measures mentioned above should be adhered to in curbing lead intoxication.

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