Lead poisoning

Definition 
Poisoning from an overdose of lead.

Poisonous Ingredient 

     
  • lead

Where Found 

     
  • pottery glaze  
  • some paints  
  • storage batteries  
  • some solders  
  • some toys

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.

Symptoms 

     
  • body as a whole       o tremor       o twitching       o convulsions       o muscle soreness       o fatigue       o weakness       o joint pain       o incoordination  
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o visual abnormalities  
  • gastrointestinal       o loss of appetite       o weight loss       o constipation       o nausea and vomiting       o abdominal pain  
  • heart and blood vessels       o high blood pressure  
  • nervous system       o agitation       o coma       o hallucinations       o lack of desire to do anything       o irritable       o uncooperative       o headache       o sleeping difficulty       o confusion

Before Calling Emergency 

Determine the following:

     
  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • the name of the product (ingredients and strengths if known)  
  • the time it was swallowed  
  • the amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number 

If you suspect possible lead poisoning, call 1-800-222-1222 anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the U.S. use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to expect at the emergency room 

Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

     
  • the use of gastric lavage  
  • administration of an IV or oral antidote  
  • treatment of the symptoms

Expectations (prognosis) 

Complete recovery may take months to years, and there may be permanent neurologic effects of chronic lead exposure in children. Symptoms resembling chronic intoxication may be develop over a period weeks or months.

The nervous and muscular systems can be greatly affected and compromised (no longer function as well as they should) following lead intoxication. Other body systems may be affected to various degrees, such as the kidneys and blood system. Individuals that live may suffer from some permanent brain damage.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Janet G. Derge, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.