Chronic Lead Poison Symptoms
Lead poisoning can pose serious problems in both children and adults, but children younger than 6 are the most vulnerable to the effects of lead, which may cause problems with physical and mental development. Lead poisoning occurs over time as lead builds up during repeated exposures. Lead can be found in lead-based paint and in dust present in old buildings. Also, lead may contaminate water, air and soil. In addition, some toys and cosmetics contain lead. According to the Mayo Clinic, the use of lead in toys and paint was banned in the U.S. in 1978 but the paint may still be present in older homes and toys from overseas may have lead in them. Symptoms of lead poisoning usually do not become obvious until lead levels in the body are already dangerously high. Lead poisoning can be detected with a blood test.
Symptoms in Newborns
If a fetus is exposed to lead in the womb, the newborn may have slowed growth. Also, later on the infant may experience learning difficulties. Some infants may catch up eventually while others may have problems indefinitely.
Symptoms in Children
Children who have lead poisoning may have a poor appetite and may lose weight. Also,they may have stomach pain, constipation and vomiting. In addition, they may be very fatigued and irritable. Caregivers may notice that the child is very pale, which happens as a result of anemia. Children with lead poisoning may also experience learning problems.
Symptoms in Adults
Adults exposed to too much lead may experience headaches, memory loss, mood instability, stomach pain and fatigue. Also, they may have tingling, numbness or pain in the arms and legs. Men may have a lower than normal sperm count and the sperm may be abnormal. Women exposed to too much lead while pregnancy may experience a miscarriage or premature birth.
Symptoms of Extremely High Levels of Lead
If the body accumulates very high levels of lead, the affected individual may experience unconsciousness, seizures and maybe even death.
Children exposed to large amounts of lead may experience the following long-term effects of lead poisoning: hearing loss, decreased bone and muscle growth, anemia, kidney damage, nervous system damage, speech problems, language impairment and behavioral problems. Adults exposed to large amounts of lead may experience digestive problems, cataracts, anemia, hypertension, nerve disorders, memory problems, muscle pain and joint pain.