Lead Poisoning Treatment

Lead poisoning is a serious condition with life-threatening complications. It occurs when lead, a highly toxic metal and poison, builds up in the body. It is present in lead-based paints, including paint on the toys and walls. You may also find it in contaminated dust, art supplies, and gasoline products. Lead poisoning does not occur all of a sudden – it may take months or even years to develop. When it does, it leads to physical and mental impairment. It is dangerous for all, but young children are at a greater risk. Early diagnosis improves the effectiveness of lead poisoning treatment.

How Can I Know If I Am Having Lead Poisoning?

Single exposure or intake of lead would rarely cause lead poisoning, as it is usually a result of repeated or long time exposure to lead.

Common Symptoms

When you become a victim of lead poisoning, you may have abdominal pain, cramps, constipation, headaches, and sleep problems after repeated lead exposure. Aggressive behavior, irritability, loss of appetite, memory loss, and high blood pressure are also signs of lead poisoning. Some other signs and symptoms include fatigue, anemia, tingling in the extremities, and kidney dysfunction.

Symptoms in Children

Lead poisoning can also affect children, and usually leads to mental impairment. The most common signs of lead poisoning in children include low IQ, behavior problems, learning difficulties, problems with hearing, poor grades at school, and growth delays.

Severe Symptoms

In a severe case of lead poisoning, you may experience symptoms such as vomiting, severe abdominal cramping, seizures, stumbling when walking, muscle weakness, coma, and disorientation. Repeated exposure to lead may even lead to kidney and nervous system damage in both children and adults. In case of these severe symptoms, it is important to call emergency service for immediate medical assistance.

How Is Lead Poisoning Diagnosed?

Before determining a lead poisoning treatment plan, it is important that your doctor first confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor will order tests and screen for lead levels in your blood if you have certain symptoms that indicate lead poisoning. You may be living in areas with a higher lead exposure risk. If that is the case, you will benefit from having your children screened for lead levels in their blood.

A simple blood test is usually enough to detect lead poisoning. The process involves taking a blood sample, which is then sent to the laboratory for analysis. Lead levels are measured in micrograms per deciliter. You may need help if your test result shows values anything higher than 5mcg/dL. You usually need immediate lead poisoning treatment when lead levels in your blood are higher than 45mcg/dL.

How Is Lead Poisoning Treated?

For Exposure to Lead

The treatment for lead poisoning involves taking different steps.

  • Eliminate the source of lead: The first treatment option is to remove all potential sources of lead around you. Dirt and old paint chips are usually the main culprits. Call in professionals to get rid of lead-based paint in your home.
  • Eat healthy food: You need to stick to a diet that includes food rich in vitamins, minerals, and iron. These nutrients help reduce levels of lead in your body. Moreover, you are less likely to absorb excessive lead if you are on a well-balanced nutritious diet.
  • Chelation therapy: If other steps do not work, the third lead poisoning treatment option is to go for chelation therapy. You will be taking chelating medicines that bind to lead and eliminate it from your body.
  • EDTA therapy: Your doctor may decide to use drugs called ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) if your lead levels are greater than 45mcg/dL. You may require more than one treatment depending on your lead level.

For Ingestion of Lead

  • Bowel irrigation: In case someone has eaten a large amount of lead in one dose, your doctor may consider bowel irrigation first, which involves flushing out the gastrointestinal tract using polyethylene glycol solution.
  • Gastric lavage or gastric suction is another treatment option in this case and involves washing out your stomach with the help of a tube inserted into your throat.

Keep in mind that while you can take steps to reduce lead levels in your body, nothing will reverse the damage that has already occurred due to lead poisoning. That is the reason why you should take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.

How to Prevent Lead Poisoning

As mentioned already, instead of getting in the hassle of finding the best lead poisoning treatment, you will be better off taking steps to avoid or at least minimize your exposure to lead. Here are some steps to take.

  • Clean your home and workplace properly to reduce exposure to lead – using sponge with warm water to clean floors will help.
  • Do not try to remove lead paint on your own. You may remove it in the wrong way and make contamination worse.
  • Call a professional to get your water tested if you have lead solder in your plumbing or have lead pipes. You should also ask a professional for help when you have an old house and have no clue about what sorts of pipes are installed.
  • Make use of cold water for cooking, drinking, and for preparing baby formula.
  • Run the water for at least 15 seconds before drinking it, especially if you are using the faucet after a few hours.
  • Make sure that your employer complies with federal and state laws regarding lead exposure.
  • Wear masks and protective clothing if your job requires lead exposure.
  • Always take a shower after you get home from work that has potential lead exposure.
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