Is Lead Poisoning Permanent?

Lead is a toxic metal used in many products. Poisoning caused by lead from paints was a widespread problem in the past.

Lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage in both children and adults. In the present, this problem is less common due to the lead removal from paint, gasoline and other sources, and to doctors doing exploratory tests to detect lead in young children. If a child has high levels of lead in the blood, it is necessary to take actions to:

  • Treat your child
  • Find the source of lead.
  • Remove the child from the source.
  • Correct the problem related to lead.

Is Lead Poisoning Permanent?

The permanent condition of lead poisoning will depend exclusively on the amount of blood lead levels, if exposure has been mild, these levels will return to normal sooner or later without treatment (chelation therapy), but it is vital to remove the lead source and attend to the doctor regularly for follow-up. In more severe cases, damage can be irreversible and some symptoms can be treated.

Lead poisoning can affect the brain and result in decreased intelligence and changes in behavior. In the present, the exploratory tests detect the lead poisoning in most children with this condition. Blood tests will be done to detect if your doctor has any reason to suspect that your child has been exposed to old paint or other sources of lead. The goal is to detect elevated levels of lead before it causes permanent damage.

At present, cases of poisoning by elevated levels of lead that causes acute symptoms are not common. However, the following symptoms may occur: Abdominal pain, constipation, decreased appetite, anemia (low levels of red blood cells in the blood or hemoglobin, headaches, seizures and coma.

What are the possible Complications of Lead Poisoning?

When severe, lead poisoning can interfere with brain growth and development. Children whose exposure to lead has been less severe may be at risk of having other problems, which include reduced intelligence and school performance, behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity.

What is the Treatment for Lead Poisoning?

-Early Detection: At 1 or 2 years of age, the doctor may order an exam to measure your child’s blood lead levels. If the exploratory tests show a blood lead level higher than normal, more tests will be done to confirm the result.

-Identify and Remove Lead: If your child has elevated levels in the blood, the first step is to discover where the lead comes from. The most common source is old paint detached. Not necessarily your child has been eating pieces of paint; instead, lead can come from dust present in your home. Sometimes lead comes from an occupational source; for example, the clothes of one of the parents exposed to lead at work, or a factory in the neighborhood.

-Removing Lead from Old Buildings can be Difficult Work: These attempts can make the problem worse if they are not done correctly. If the source of lead is found in your home, it will be necessary to find somebody with knowledge and special experience to clean the lead (removal).

-Change your Child´s Behavior: It is necessary to make the necessary efforts to reduce hand-to-mouth activities that cause lead poisoning in children. Washing children’s hands frequently can help to reduce the amount of lead that enters their bodies.

-Changes in the Diet: Ingest of adequate amounts of vitamin C, calcium and iron can help prevent there are elevated levels of lead in the body.

-Chelation Therapy: Removing lead from your child’s body is difficult because lead is absorbed in bones and other tissues. If the levels of this element in the blood reach a certain point, it will be administered to help remove it. This is called chelation therapy. If your child’s exposure has been mild, eventually blood lead levels will return to normal without chelation therapy if the lead source has been removed.

-Tracing: Your child should be evaluated medical follow-up regularly to make sure that the levels of lead in the blood have dropped.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 8, 2018

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