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Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

We frequently get asked “What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?” 

The most important answer is that “In many cases, there may be no outwardly observable symptoms at all.”

It needs to be understood that the initial exposure – whether acute or chronic – is most often asymptomatic or  – in many cases – the symptoms, if observable at all, may be subtle—and assumed to be related to some other illness or condition: an extended cold or flu, PMS, arthritis, migraines, digestive disorders, sexual or reproductive dysfuntion, depression, “aging” or mild dementia, etc. – and with kids–  ADD/ADHD, Autism, OCD or often subtler, allegedly ‘normal’ (for boys) behavior: agression, moodiness,  poor impulse control, laziness or “lack of motivation”, distractedness, etc.)

With acute lead-exposure – the symptoms may resemble those associated with a bad flu – but without a fever – or can even be more extreme—including seizures and death, depending on the level, time-frame and path of exposure, as well as the constitution/general immune response and condition/current health of the person impacted.

Since we’re not doctors, instead of going into every known possible symptom and concern ourselves, we’ve chosen to give you some links to sites that also list symptoms (and putting together a bit of a compilation based on these sites and links.)

  1. Mayo Clinic:
  2. MedlinePlus:
  3. Wikipedia:
  4. Healthline:
  5. WebMD:
  6. The State of Oregon Site:

Short term symptoms of exposure (from the Oregon State site)

  • Tiredness or loss of energy
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability or crankiness
  • Reduced attention span
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced attention span
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Constipation
  • Aches or pains in stomach
  • And for adults
    • Tiredness or weakness
    • Irritability
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Headache
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Aches or pains in stomach
    • Loss of appetite
    • Constipation
    • Nausea
    • Weight loss

A sampling of some of the longer-term impacts (from the same site):

  • Brain damage and lower intelligence
  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impaired speech and language
  • Slowed growth
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Hearing damage
  • And for adults (long term)
    • Impotency
    • Brain and nervous system damage
    • High blood pressure
    • Digestive problems
    • Kidney problems
    • Anemia
    • Reproductive system problems
    • Hearing, vision and muscle coordination problems
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