How long does it take to get lead poisoning?
Lead poisoning usually takes months or years of exposure to a small amount of lead at home, work or daycare. When exposed to large amounts of lead, it can quickly lead to lead poisoning (acute poisoning).
What is lead poisoning?
Lead poisoning is caused by the accumulation of lead in the body. Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Small children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning, as lead may affect the developing brain and nerves. This may severely affect mental and physical development. At very high levels, lead poisoning can cause seizures, unconsciousness and even death.
Lead circulates to the brain, liver, kidney and bones and accumulates in the teeth and bones over time. During pregnancy, if there’s high lead content in the bones, the fetus may be affected. Lead exposure at any level is harmful, but it is preventable.
What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?
Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in the earth’s crust. Excessive lead buildup in the body can cause lead poisoning. Although lead poisoning primarily affects children, it can also prove dangerous in adults. Lead poisoning signs and symptoms include
- High blood pressure
- Joint and muscle pain
- Difficulties with memories or concentration
- Abdominal pain
- Mood disorders
- Reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm
- Miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth in pregnant women
- Pain or tingling in feet
- Loss of appetite
- Kidney and nervous system damage
Children are four to five times more likely to absorb lead. They are at the highest risk of lead poisoning, as it affects the physical and mental development in the body. Exposure to low levels of lead can lead to irreversible damage to brain development. The warning signs in children include
- Developmental delay
- Learning difficulties
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Hearing loss
- Laziness and fatigue
- Pica (eating things that aren’t edible)
- Premature birth
- Significant low birth weight
- Slow growth
What are the sources and routes of lead exposure?
People can be exposed to lead through environmental and occupational sources, which may include
- Lead-based paints
- Burning fossil fuel
- Lead pipes, brass plumbing fixtures and copper pipes soldered with lead
- Lead solder in food cans
- Lead-contaminated soil released from gasoline or paint settle
- Household dust containing lead from the lead paint chips
- Glazes in some ceramic or chinaware
- Toys and other products
- Tiro, an eye cosmetic
- Some traditional herbal medicines and folk remedies
- Lead bullets at firing ranges
- Tamarind used in Mexican candies
- Auto repair, battery manufacturing and construction industries
How is lead poisoning diagnosed?
The physician may carry out the following tests to confirm lead poisoning
- Physical examination
- Blood tests to to measure lead levels in the blood
The physician may also ask the patient about:
- Medical history
- Potential environmental exposure to lead
- Any learning or behavioral problems especially in children
How is lead poisoning treated?
Treatment of lead poisoning involves
- Removing the source of lead
- Good nutrition
Before the commencement of treatment, it is necessary to measure the blood lead level. Lower blood lead levels don’t require treatment. However, concentrated blood lead levels require treatment. In individuals with severe lead poisoning, the physician may prescribe chelating medicines that bind to lead and pass out through urine. Medications may be given either orally or intravenously, depending on the severity of the lead poisoning. Medicines that get rid of lead also get rid of other vital nutrients. Hence, it is necessary to replenish the lost nutrients with dietary supplements and good nutrition.
After treating the patient, it is necessary to identify the source of lead poisoning and remove it.
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Atropen (atropine)Atropen (atropine) is a prescription medicine used to treat the symptoms of Anesthesia Premedication, Sinus Bradycardia (ACLS), Bronchospasm, and Organophosphate or Carbamate Poisoning. Atropen may be used alone or with other medications. Serious side effects of Atropen include restlessness, tremor, fatigue, coordination difficulties, confusion, hallucinations, depression, loss of muscle control on one side, sensation loss on one side of the face, nausea, difficulty speaking, vomiting, and cardiac arrest.
Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
dimercaprolDimercaprol is used as an antidote for poisoning from minerals including arsenic, gold, and mercury, and concomitantly with edetate calcium disodium to treat acute lead poisoning. Common side effects of dimercaprol include high blood pressure (hypertension), rapid heart rate (tachycardia), chest pain, headache, fever in children, burning sensation in the lips, mouth and throat; tightness and/or pain in the throat, chest or hands; inflammation of the conjunctiva, spasm of eyelids (blepharospasm), watering eyes (lacrimation), nasal discharge (rhinorrhea), nausea, vomiting, salivation, throat swelling and irritation, sore throat, abdominal pain, tingling of hands (paresthesia), anxiety, nervousness, weakness, burning sensation in the penis, excessive sweating (diaphoresis), pain at injection site, painful sterile abscesses, kidney insufficiency, and low count of leukocyte immune cells (leukopenia).
Physostigmine Salicylate InjectionPhysostigmine Salicylate Injection is an antidote used to reverse the effect of drugs that cause anticholinergic syndrome. Common side effects of physostigmine salicylate include nausea, vomiting, salivation, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and excessive sweating.
Poison Control CentersThe United States National Poison Hotline is 1-800-222-1222. When you call this number you will be automatically linked to the nearest poison center in the United States. Call this number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to talk to a poison expert.
What Does Lead Poisoning Do To Adults?Lead is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in the earth’s crust. Excess lead buildup in the body can cause lead poisoning. Although lead poisoning primarily affects children, it can also prove to be dangerous in adults.