Lead poisoning may sound frightening, and for good reason - it is. The process of being poisoned by lead is gradual and lead poisoning symptoms can be painful, life-altering, and even deadly. Lead poisoning death is fairly uncommon, but it is known to happen.
How does one get lead poisoning? Historically, people have gotten lead into their systems through soil, food, and even tableware. For a long time, lead was used to make plates and cups and was, in turn, ingested whenever an unwitting victim sat down for a meal. Nowadays, getting lead poisoning is a lot more difficult, as the use of it in everyday items is heavily regulated. Still, it does happen, and the results can be fatal.
If you're wondering, "How do you get lead poisoning?" and "How does the poisoning progress?", you're in luck. We're about to go over all of it in every painful, grotesque detail.
Lead Poisoning Happens Slowly Over Time
Lead can be found in many objects and substances, though recent regulations prohibit its inclusion in newer everyday items. No one eats or drinks from lead tableware anymore and most paints are no longer lead-based. With that being said, lead still exists. It can show up in reservoirs, in art supplies, and even in the dust of old homes and buildings. In order to get lead poisoning, lead must be ingested, so touching your mouth after touching an item containing lead or eating a lead-based item will result in the lead entering the body.
Don't worry about contracting lead poisoning after merely passing by an art studio - one dose of the stuff usually isn't enough to do harm. It must be continuously ingested over a long period of time, causing it to build up in the body. As it accumulates, lead poisoning symptoms will gradually become worse. If left untreated, the symptoms will turn from unnoticeable to harmful... or even worse: deadly.
Your Stomach Will Start Complaining
Because lead is ingested, it makes sense that one of the first things to be impacted is the stomach. Lead poisoning often begins with seemingly minor stomach pain. As time goes on and more lead is ingested, other symptoms may present themselves, such as constipation, nausea, and horrible abdominal cramps that may eventually lead to vomiting.
These stomach conditions might be awful to endure, but they may not be considered a sign of anything drastic - after all, these symptoms could be tied to any number of illnesses, and lead poisoning is not one that is immediately thought of in the 21st century. Unfortunately, if the cause of your pain isn't properly identified, lead poisoning will begin to harm vital organs, possibly causing permanent, irreparable damage.
You Won't Be Able to Eat
As one's health continues to decline, symptoms relating to the stomach are going to become more than just a little annoying. Sufferers may find a complete lack of appetite caused by the pain or illness consuming food brings. That leads to weight loss, irritability, and even sleep deprivation due to the pain or discomfort.
This is particularly bad for children because it can stunt their growth and cause issues with their performance in school. In fact, lead poisoning hits kids the hardest in just about every way: their bodies absorb lead much more easily than those who are older.
You Will Become a Jerk
Not eating, feeling stomach pain, and not getting good sleep would make just about anyone grumpy, but lead poisoning can change a sufferer's personality in other ways as well. The victim may become more irritable and aggressive, exhibiting verbally or physically violent outbursts that are out of character. Mood swings and depression are also common symptoms of lead poisoning. These personality changes may be so sudden that friends and family will take notice of how much the victim starts behaving like a completely different person.
These changes occur because, as lead continues to accumulate, it negatively impacts the nervous system and brain. As levels build up, lead circulates through the various body systems in increasingly more deadly quantities, creating blockages or damaging parts of vital organs. Changes in mood and behavior are a sign that the brain is lead's most recent victim.