How to Recognize and Manage Lead Poisoning?
Definition of lead poisoning
This refers to a condition where lead, a heavy metal, accumulates in the human body to alarming levels, and happens over an elongated period of time. This has devastating effects on different systems in the body. It is important to know that lead poisoning is very common in children below the age of five. The reason for this is that lead is often used in paint, and kids will sometimes peel off the paint and put it in their mouths. Over the years, this causes a build up of the metal which in turn severely affects both physical and mental developmental milestones.
What are the signs and symptoms of lead poisoning?
When lead poisoning occurs in babies, there will be stunted growth and keen care givers might be able to notice that there are distinct difficulties in learning. In young children, this will be manifested by the following characteristics:
- Significant weight loss
- Pain in the abdominal region
- Persistent irritability
- Severe constipation
- Loss of appetite which then leads to poor eating habits
- Constant tiredness
Lead poisoning can also occur in babies. Adults are also not immune to lead poisoning. In grownups, this condition will be exhibited by a number of symptoms as outlined below:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Significant decline in mental acuity
- Persistent headaches, and in those with migraines, unbearable migraines.
- Weakness in the muscles
- Memory lapses
- Abdominal pain
- In men, this has the effect of causing a decrease in the sperm count, thus causing fertility issues
- In expectant women, this has been shown to cause premature birth of deformed babies. In other cases, pregnant women will miscarry.
What are some of the factors that contribute to the occurrence of lead poisoning?
As aforementioned, babies are at the highest risk of getting lead into their systems by virtue of the fact that they tend to chew paint chippings. They are also at risk of coming into contact with lead dust as they play about. Another factor which contributes to this deadly condition is when individuals reside in old houses which existed before regulation of lead came into play. In developing countries, this is further compounded by the fact that there are no strict regulations on the exposure of individuals to lead.
What is the treatment for lead poisoning?
The first step that must be taken as far as this is concerned is to eliminate the source of lead, in which case if an old house is it, it is prudent that the residents move to a safer place. Babies must be watched over to prevent the risk of ingesting paint chippings. Once this is done, the attending physician will recommend the way forward. While at it, preventive measures will go a long way in preventing poisoning as a result of lead accumulation. Young children especially, should be taught to wash their hands frequently as well as avoid putting foreign objects in their mouths. Preventing this is better than treating it, especially because the damages are irreversible.