The 5 Most Common Lead-Related Health Problems and How to Treat Them

Lead has been used extensively in building for a long time, and it’s only in recent years that we’ve identified the danger that it presents and begun to take active measures to prevent against it. While lead itself isn’t particularly harmful when touched for short periods of time, it’s often the degradation of lead which creates dust that is then inhaled which can cause more serious health issues.

While not the sole cause of lead-related health problems, lead paint is the most common culprit. It’s used throughout the United States and Canada and once it starts to peel and crack it releases dust which contains lead. Over time you can breathe it which causes long-term lead exposures, and if you’re ripping it down, you can get large amounts of lead into your system rapidly causing acute lead poisoning and the associated symptoms.

Abdominal Pain

Often people will notice quite quickly after being exposed to lead that they are suffering from abdominal pain which is sometimes directly related to constipation. Abdominal pain from lead poisoning is often characterized as acute, sharp and painful rather than a dull or underlying sensation.

Constipation

The most common cause of constipation is a lack of fluid in the gastrointestinal tract and lead exposure, especially when in large amounts and suddenly, can cause shock to the body which reduces this water amount. As a result, people who live around lead or work in conditions where they are exposed to lead will usually find that they suffer from chronic and severe constipation.

Decreased IQ

Studies looking at the development of children who were exposed to lead over time have shown that it can seriously impact the intelligence of the children. Children were given IQ tests when young and then again as they aged and when compared to the typical child there is a noticeable decrease in score, which suggests that lead poisoning can harm the brain development of children.

This is an incredibly serious issue, and there seems to be little that can be done for these children once they are finished growing. As a result, lead poisoning is often considered to be most detrimental for children which is why it’s particularly critical to prevent lead exposure in the home where kids spend the majority of their time.

Depression

Repeatedly lead exposure has been found to cause a variety of mental, behavioral and cognitive problems in children. But it can also cause less obvious issues like depression that can stick with the child as they age. Even in adults, studies have found a correlation between major depression, panic disorders and the level of lead exposure in the blood. Most worryingly, these results exist even when the level of lead in the blood was relatively low.

Nausea and Sickness

With this abdominal pain and constipation that is exceptionally common from lead exposure or poisoning, people tend also to experience some level of nausea or sickness. It’s hard to tell whether this is a direct cause of the lead or whether it’s a symptom of the other health problems that the lead is causing. Either way, it’s easy to correlate the two and repeatedly those who live around lead for long periods of time will report sickness or nausea.

How to Treat Lead Exposure Problems

The first step in treating any health problems that are related to lead is to remove the source of exposure or to remove yourself from it. In many cases, this will mean either leaving your home, sealing in old lead paint or having it entirely removed and the house sanitized from contamination. While this is undoubtedly a serious endeavor, in many cases the local government will sponsor the removal.

If this isn’t effective enough, your doctor is likely to recommend either chelation therapy or EDTA chelation therapy. The purpose of these treatments is to encourage your body to excrete the lead out in your urine. For higher levels of lead exposure, you will need EDTA therapy which uses a slightly different drug that is administered through injection rather than a mouth bind.

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