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10 Common Symptoms of Lead Poisoning


Remember when you were young, and your parents told you to not lick the paint in your house? Lead poisoning occurs when there is an accumulation of lead in your body. Lead-based paint and the dust it generates can be found in older buildings and homes. Therefore, you can be exposed to dangerous lead paint over months or years. Children and adults are at risk, as are workers, such as welders.

Lead poisoning is rare, with fewer than 200,000 cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Avoid further exposure to lead or lead-based products, and your doctor can prescribe medications that remove lead from your body. However, there are some cases in which lead poisoning is fatal.

Symptom 1: Loss of Appetite

Do you not feel like eating? Have you lost your appetite?

Lead poisoning can cause you to lose your appetite.

Symptom 2: Developmental Delays

Is there a delay in your child’s development, both physically and mentally? Are they growing slower than normal? Delayed language or motor milestones, poor speech articulation, poor language understanding or usage, and problems maintaining attention are signs that your child is suffering from lead poisoning.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Children younger than 6 years are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development.”

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Symptom 3: Trouble Learning

Does your child struggle to learn new things? Do they have a learning disability? Children with lead poisoning often score lower on tests and have to repeat grades.

According to Chicagoreader.com, “Patricia Robinson recalls a time when she fondly watched her son, Michael, then a toddler, sit in the windowsill of her Englewood home, completely engrossed. Matchbox car in hand, he would run the toy back and forth over the brown painted surface, making little vrooms and beep-beeps as he played. Ten years later, Robinson's warmth for that moment has long faded. That was where it started—where she believes Michael ingested the lead-filled dust that poisoned him, leaving him with lifelong learning disabilities. Doctors, organic food, costly tutors, special ed teachers—Robinson has tried whatever she can to help her son get ahead, despite the difficulties he's faced because of lead poisoning. But Michael's struggles to learn, to pay attention in school, and to get along with other children continue.”

Symptom 4: Weight Loss

Have you lost weight – without trying to?

If suffering from lead poisoning, you may lose weight, especially due to other symptoms of such poisoning, including loss of appetite and vomiting.

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Symptom 5: Pain

Do you have pain in your abdomen? Joints? Muscles?

According to Medicinelineplus.gov, “Breathing air, drinking water, eating food, or swallowing or touching dirt that contains lead can cause many health problems. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. In adults, lead can increase blood pressure and cause infertility, nerve disorders, and muscle and joint pain.”

Symptom 6: Constipation

Are you constipated? Do you have painful bowel movements?

Lead poisoning is considered an environmental reason for constipation. 

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Symptom 7: Nausea/Vomiting

Are you nauseated? Feel like you need to vomit?

Lead poisoning can cause nausea and vomiting.

Symptom 8: Fatigue/Insomnia

Are you excessively tired or suffer from insomnia? Do you feel sluggish? Unable to fall asleep and stay asleep?

Lead poisoning can cause sleep problems.

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Symptom 9: Irritable/Hyperactive

Are you irritable? Cranky? Hyperactive or less active than usual?

Lead poisoning can cause behavioral changes.

Symptom 10: Headache

Do you have a severe headache?

According to the book titled, Lead Poisoning, by Sir Thomas Oliver, “A large percentage of lead workers, when ill, complain of headache. It is characteristic of the headache of plumbism that the pain is extremely severe. It respects neither sex nor age. In the absence of albumin in the urine, and of anatomical changes in the retina, but with a history of exposure to lead, headache is of diagnostic importance.”

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