Chronic and acute lead poisoning: symptoms, treatment

Lead is a metal that is widely used in different industries, it is found in some paints, building materials. Lead poisoning can be acute or chronic, can occur for many reasons. In this article, we discussed the main causes, symptoms and complications of lead intoxication, first aid, and treatment of this disease.

Causes of lead poisoning

Lead poisoning (saturnism) can occur for many reasons. It is common among children and adults. For human threat is not only acute but also chronic intoxication by this metal. Lead – the main component of batteries. It is used in the printing, in the manufacture of pottery.

The main reasons for the development of lead intoxication are:

  • professional lead poisoning occurs in people who work with this metal. It can be a chronic, daily exposure, or acute. Lead can enter the body through the respiratory tract, the skin;
  • use in a life of pottery, lead coated leads to chronic intoxication;
  • accommodation near the factories on processing of nonferrous metals. In this case, chronic intoxication may occur in a large number of the population. Children are most susceptible to chronic lead poisoning;
  • the use of water that enters the house through a lead pipe. Earlier the metal used in the manufacture of pipes in some houses survived such a dangerous supply;
  • acute poisoning may develop in the use of vodka, in the manufacture of which used lead equipment;
  • the use of Newspapers for wrapping food products. Some people used to do and don't know about the risk of development of intoxication;
  • accidental child ingestion of lead paint.

What are the dangers of lead poisoning

Chronic lead poisoning is more common than acute. It is most dangerous for children, as it causes damage to the nervous system. In adults, chronic saturnism may not manifest for a long period of time, which gradually leads to the development of chronic pathologies.

Complications of chronic lead intoxication can be different, below are the main.

  • Anemia - a condition in which the body lacks red blood cells, oxygen and hemoglobin. All organs and systems suffer from hypoxia (lack of oxygen).
  • Chronic renal failure. Part of lead is accumulated in the kidneys, slowly reduces their efficiency.
  • Chronic heart and respiratory failure develops due to destruction lead the respiratory tract, lungs and myocardium.
  • Violation of mental development in children, senile dementia or encephalopathy in adults develops due to destruction of nerve cells in the brain. Children with saturnism lag behind their peers in development, poorly in school.
  • Toxic hepatitis leads to a gradual decline in the health of the liver. Can develop cirrhosis.
  • Violations of fetal development during pregnancy. Women who during pregnancy had contact with lead, can produce children with mental disabilities, cardiac defects, abnormalities of development.

Acute poisoning leads to:

  • hemolysis of the blood is the disintegration of cell structures of blood. In the first place are dying red blood cells, developed acute anaemia and hypoxia;
  • hypovolemic shock – a severe condition caused by acute loss of fluid. Dehydration leads to a change in pH of blood, its thickening. The body is suffering from hypoxia, occurs reflex spasm of blood vessels, impaired brain and kidney;
  • acute hepatitis toxic liver damage. The patient yellow skin, sclera, mucous membranes. It increases the liver, there is a sharp pain in his right side, broken chair;
  • acute renal failure, which severely decreases the amount of produced urine. Patient develop swelling, the skin becomes earthy color;
  • edema of the brain – this condition is often lethal. The patient developed acute headache, seizures, falls, pressure, impaired consciousness;
  • termination of pregnancy (spontaneous abortion). The woman has severe abdominal pain, uterine bleeding.

The symptoms of lead poisoning

If lead poisoning symptoms depends on the duration of exposure to the chemical, its concentration in the tissues of the body, the severity of poisoning. The most dangerous is the acute poisoning of lead as this metal is best absorbed into the body through the lung tissue.

The table below presents the main signs of lead poisoning:

Type/stage of poisoning Clinical signs
Acute intoxication
  • Nausea, vomiting in white.
  • The taste of metal in my mouth.
  • Pain in the right hypochondrium.
  • Dizziness, disturbance of consciousness.
  • Reducing the amount of produced urine.
  • Severe headache.
  • Repeated vomiting.
  • Yellowness of the skin and visible mucous membranes.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Surface shortness of breath.
  • The disruption of the heart may develop tachycardiaor arrhythmia.
  • Increase in blood pressure.
Chronic poisoning mild
  • A metallic taste in the mouth.
  • The gray strip on the gums.
  • Cramps in the calf muscles.
  • The decreased performance.
  • General weakness, lethargy, confusion.
  • Hyperhidrosis – excessive sweating.
Chronic poisoning of medium degree of
  • Hypertension, in which systolic blood pressure increases to 200-220 mm Hg. article;
  • Intestinal colic is the sensation of spasms and abdominal pain.
  • Chronic constipation.
Severe chronic intoxication At this stage of the disease all of the above symptoms or moderate intoxication are amplified, become more pronounced. They are joined by the following characteristics:

  • impaired memory, mental alertness;
  • partial paresis and paralysis upper and lower limbs;
  • speech disorder (dysarthria);
  • the skin becomes sallow, pale color;
  • spasms of all skeletal muscles (seizures similar to epilepsy).

Assistance in acute lead poisoning

No need to wait for the first symptoms, treatment should begin immediately after contact with a poisonous substance. If the person continues to be in a room with poisoned vapors of lead in the air, you should immediately take him to fresh air.

We must not forget about their own safety. Bringing a person from the premises with polluted air wear a respirator or at least dust mask or cotton-gauze bandage. If the person is in consciousness – he will be able to leave the contaminated space.

First and foremost, you need to call the ambulance. Phone details tell the dispatchers about the incident, state your exact location.

While waiting for doctors can start first aid. When lead poisoning themselves there is little to help the victim.

  • If lead gets on the skin wash simple running water. Provide patient calm, open Windows for circulation of fresh air.
  • Ingestion of lead should be gastric lavage. For this you have to chug a liter of plain water at room temperature and snatch it up. The cleansing of the stomach will help to prevent the absorption of lead into the blood stream.
  • When poisoning pairs of lead should be given to the patient to rinse your mouth and nose with plain water, drink water, sweet tea.

Remember, give the patient the medication is contraindicated. Should treat the doctors after examination of the patient and detecting his violations.

Medical treatment of acute poisoning

First aid in acute lead poisoning have the physicians who have arrived on a call. They collect medical history, examine the victim, take his blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate and saturation (blood oxygen saturation). They then proceed to first aid, which is:

  • the formulation of the dropper with glucose, vitamin C and a saline solution;
  • connecting the patient to the oxygen through a mask;
  • gastric lavage through the probe (if swallowed, lead);
  • the regulation of blood pressure, pulse and respiration.

Then patient urgently transporterowych in the near future reanimation or Toxicological Department, where it undergoes further treatment and examination.

The patient introduces an antidote for lead poisoning – unitiol, cuprumin, the dimercaprol isn. These "antidotes" accelerate the excretion of lead from the body.

Treatment of chronic lead poisoning

Chronic lead poisoning treated a very long time. If a person has severe stage of intoxication, completely to cure it is impossible. Lead is deposited in all organs and tissues, replaces the bone structure. With treatment can only reduce its concentration in the body, to eliminate the complications.

Therapy of chronic lead intoxication should begin with the stop in contact with a toxic substance. If the person poisoned them in the workplace, it is transferred to another safe job.

Treatment of chronic poisoning with lead is carried out first at the Department of toxicology. Upon stabilization of the condition of the patient being discharged from the hospital and appoint him to outpatient therapy, write out a diet and regimen of drugs.

The main components of the treatment of chronic lead intoxication:

  • the introduction of antidotes of lead to accelerate its excretion from the body;
  • vitamins stimulate the recovery of the Central nervous system;
  • magnesium sulfate – a drug that dilates small and large blood vessels, regulates blood pressure, relieves spasmodic episodes;
  • glucose is used to power the nerve cells;
  • when heart damage is introduced ATP, and nicotinic acid;
  • platifillin, nosh-PA – relieve intestinal colic, the abdominal pain;
  • diet. Doctors recommend to eat more fruits and vegetables with high content of pectin and fiber. Especially useful pears, plums, apples, zucchini, pumpkin.

Patients assigned to the complex physiological massages,baths, wraps. They help to reduce pain in muscle and bone tissue, improve overall health, poisoned people, help to recover faster.

Patients saturnisme

Diagnosis and treatment when saturnisme impossible without a detailed examination of the patient. Diagnostics are also needed to identify lesions of different organs and systems, establishing the degree of loss of functionality of the nerve tissues.

The main components of diagnostic saturnism and its complications are listed below.

  • General full blood count is needed to detect anemia, foci of inflammation in the body.
  • Urinalysis is performed to evaluate the health of the kidneys. In acute hemolysis develops hematuria (appearance of blood in the urine).
  • Biochemical analysis of blood is done to detect disorders in the liver, pancreas and kidneys. Also it can determine the level of electrolytes and blood pH.
  • A blood test for the determination of lead helps to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the concentration of this metal.
  • Ultrasound examination of internal organs performed to detect complications of the disease. With the help of ultrasound can detect liver, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder.
  • Electrocardiography is performed to assess the work of the heart. It can help to detect heart rhythm disturbance, destructive processes in the myocardium.
  • Radiography is indicated for the poisoning. On x-ray you can see the defeat of the bronchi and lung tissue.
  • Daily blood pressure monitoring is indicated for hypertension. Severe forms of saturnism accompanied by a rise in blood pressure to critical values.

Prevention of lead poisoning

Intoxication with lead can be avoided. Below are recommendations that will help you to protect yourself from the effects of this dangerous metal.

  • Do not use pottery or other utensils with lead.
  • If you live in an old house with lead pipes – repair and replace them with copper or plastic.
  • In contact with the lead in our profession, observe all safety rules.
  • If pregnancy will be placed on safe operation. Under the law, the employer must provide a pregnant woman a safe working environment.
  • When buying a new home ask the presence of nearby large-scale production.
  • In the presence of lead paint at home, carefully hide it from the child.

Lead poisoning, or saturnism, – a heavy pathological condition, which can occur in acute or chronic form. Treated this disease in the hospital. Severe lesions lead can lead to disability and death. Saturnism much easier to prevent than in the future, for life to treat its consequences.