How to Treat Lead Poisoning
Individuals exposed to lead over a period of weeks, months, or years can develop lead poisoning. The poisoning occurs as even small amounts of lead build up in the body. Although anyone can get lead poisoning, small children are especially vulnerable and can develop problems with mental and physical development and even death.While you can treat lead poisoning, prevention is the best precaution to protect your family and yourself.
Identifying and Treating Lead Poisoning
Acknowledge risk factors.Certain persons are at an increased risk of developing lead poisoning. Knowing the following risk factors may help you identify symptoms and get treatment in a timely manner.Risk factors include:
- Age. Infants and young children are more likely to develop lead poisoning from chewing paint chips or inhaling lead dust. Children absorb lead into their bloodstreams more easily than adults.
- Residence. Living in older homes can expose you to lead paints, which were banned in the 1970s.
- Hobbies. Making stained glass, which requires the use of lead solder, and refinishing old furniture can expose you to lead.
- Country of origin. Persons living in developing countries are at a higher risk because these places often have less stringent laws on lead exposure.
Recognize the symptoms of lead poisoning in children.There are a variety of symptoms of lead poisoning, which present differently in children and adults. If you notice these signs or symptoms in your child, lead poisoning may be a possibility:
- Developmental delays
- Learning difficulties
- Slowed growth
- Weight loss
- Sluggishness or fatigue
- Abdominal pain
- Hearing loss
Recognize the symptoms of lead poisoning in adults.While children are more at risk, adults are also susceptible to lead poisoning In adults, the symptoms of lead poisoning include:
- High blood pressure
- Abdominal pain
- Aches, and pains
- Declined mental function
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Memory loss
- Mood disorders
- Reduced sperm count
- Miscarriage or premature birth
Schedule an appointment your doctor.If you develop any signs or symptoms of lead poisoning, or even suspect it, visit your doctor as soon as possible. Not treating lead poisoning can affect brain development in children, and cause issues with the kidneys and nervous system in both children and adults. It can also lead to death.
- Your doctor may order tests, such as a blood test, to definitively diagnose lead poisoning. She will likely look for signs of iron deficiency (anemia), which is associated with lead toxicity, and may also conduct a physical examination. From here, she can formulate a treatment plan.
- Some doctors may test children for lead poisoning as a part of regular check ups.
Remove the lead contaminant from your environment.The first and most important part of treatment for lead poisoning is to remove the source of the contamination.For persons with lower levels of lead in the body, removing the contaminant may be enough to reduce blood lead levels.
- Contact your local health department, which can recommend ways to identify the source of the contamination in your home or community.
- You may want to hire a professional who can locate and abate lead contamination. The Environmental Protection Agency offers a service to help you locate Certified Renovation and Lead Dust Sampling Technician Firms, which can help you remove your problem.The service is available at .
Undergo chelation therapy.If you have higher levels of lead in your body, your doctor may prescribe that you undergo chelation therapy.This treatment can help your body excrete lead in your urine with medication.
- Chelation therapy uses mineral ions or cations that bond with lead in your body. Once this bond is formed, the mineral ions or cations help your body excrete the lead in your urine.
- Chelation therapy in children may be at lower levels than in adults.
- Chelation therapy is often given for either a 19 day course or two separate five day courses.
Children with severe lead intoxication may receive combined chelation therapy with dimercaprol and edetate calcium disodium.
- Severe lead intoxication is a medical emergency — chelation therapy can be a life-saving treatment.
Get EDTA therapy.In some adults, your doctor may suggest treatment with three different drugs, which are commonly called ethylene diaminete traacetic acid, or EDTA.Undergo these treatments if you have a severe case of lead poisoning, but be aware that it may not be possible to reverse damage.This is particularly true if the lead has entered your bone.
- You may require more than one treatment of EDTA to remove lead from your body.
- EDTA is administered intravenously.There is some evidence that intravenous administration of the medication may be more effective at removing lead than oral preparations.
Preventing Lead Poisoning
Wash hands and toys often and thoroughly.Children often develop lead poisoning as a result of hand to mouth ingestion.Washing their hands and toys often and thoroughly can help minimize the risk of contamination.
- Wash your child’s hands in warm water with a mild soap for at least 20 seconds after outdoor play, before eating, and at bedtime.
- Use a hand sanitizer if you cannot access soap and water.
Dust surfaces regularly.Clean dust off of surfaces in your home on a regular basis. This can remove and cut down on lead dust and small particles and minimize your risk for developing lead poisoning.
- Wipe furniture, windowsills, and other surfaces containing dust with a wet cloth. Mop your floors on a regular basis, too.
- Keeping windows closed and using an air conditioner may cut down on the amount of dust in your home.
Steer children away from exposed soil.Soil, which children may put in their mouths, can expose them to lead. Keeping them away from bare soil and making them wash their hands frequently may help prevent lead exposure and poisoning.
- If you have exposed soil, cover it with grass or mulch.
- If you are able, provide your children with a sandbox that you cover between uses.
Dine on healthy foods.A healthy diet can help your body lower lead absorption.Children in particular need sufficient calcium and iron in their diets to help lower possible lead exposure.
- Adults should get between 1,800 – 2,200 calories per day, depending on activity level, age, weight, and sex. Infants to three year olds should get between 900 and 100 calories per day, while children between the ages of 4 and 13 need a range of 1200 – 1600 calories daily.
- Eat vitamin- and nutrient-dense foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy, and lean proteins.
- Children need about two to three cups of dairy per day, which will provide them with their recommended dose of calcium.Children can get calcium from milk, cheese, yogurt, dark, leafy greens and oranges.
- Children require between .27 mg and 8 mg of iron every day. They can get iron from lean meats and seafood, nuts, and fortified grain products.
- It’s also important to drink enough water for hydration, which may help excrete lead from your urine. Adults need between nine and 16 cups of water a day.Children need between five and eight glasses depending on age.
Renovate with care.If you are doing renovations on your home, it’s important to take care during the process, especially if your home is older. This can minimize your risk of exposure to lead and may prevent lead poisoning.
- Don’t sand surfaces with lead paint. This can create large amounts of lead dust that you could inhale.
- Don’t remove paint with an open flame torch because this can also create small lead particles that you could ingest.
- Cover old paint that isn’t particularly chipped and thickly adhering to the wall. You can do this with another coat of paint, drywall, paneling, or encapsulation.
- Wear protective equipment and clothing such as masks, suits, or articles that you can throw away. Don’t shake out your work clothes or wash them with other clothing.
- Shower and wash your hair before leaving the site.
- If you are renovating in or near your kitchen, watch for surfaces that may have lead dust accumulation. Either clean it off or eat someplace with a lower risk of lead exposure.
QuestionHow do I lower a high level of lead in one-year-old?
Family Medicine PhysicianFamily Medicine PhysicianExpert AnswerChelation therapies and therapies with EDTA are used to treat extremely high lead levels in children. Speak with your child's pediatrician.Thanks!
QuestionThere is so much lead in our water I only shower about twice a week. Is this okay?
Family Medicine PhysicianFamily Medicine PhysicianExpert AnswerNo. Lead exposure at any level is dangerous, especially if you are a child.Thanks!
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Video: Pediatrics & Child Health Care : Lead Poisoning Symptoms in Babies
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