Lead Poisoning - Symptoms

Scientists continue to learn more about lead poisoning. One of their newest discoveries is that very low levels of lead, once thought to be harmless, can be damaging over long periods of time. Even though a child seems healthy, he or she may have enough lead in the blood to cause chronic lead poisoning. Some symptoms of chronic lead poisoning include:

  • Learning disabilities (see learning disorders entry)
  • Hyperactivity (very high levels of activity)
  • Mental retardation (see mental retardation entry)
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing loss (see hearing loss entry)
  • Headaches (see headache entry)

Lead poisoning can also affect adults. Some symptoms of the disorder among adults include high blood pressure, digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory loss, and muscle and joint pain. In addition, it can lead to difficulties during pregnancy and cause reproductive problems in both women and men.

Acute Lead Poisoning

Acute lead poisoning is less common than chronic lead poisoning. People who work around lead in their jobs, for example, are at risk for taking in large amounts of lead in a short period of time. In such cases, some of the symptoms that may develop include:

  • Severe abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness of the limbs
  • Seizures
  • Coma

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