High Lead Levels Connected with Hearing Loss

Lead poisoning is horrible for many health reasons. It can cause encephalopathy, other brain problems, peripheral nerve problems, delayed neurodevelopment, reduced growth rate in children, bone loss in adults, change in behavior, vision problems, motor deficits, digestive system problems, and kidney problems. It can also lead to death.

Heightened lead levels also affect the hearing of young ;people and the not so young, which I explored for this blog.

Exposure to lead occurs primarily through contact with lead paint (commonly used in houses before 1950), as well as from lead in water and soil.  There have been recent findings of lead in toys as well, so parents need to be vigilant in finding out where toys come from and what is used to make and decorate them.  When children are exposed to even small amounts of lead, their behavior shows signs of irritability and hyperactivity.  As the level rises, hearing loss becomes a factor along with the other problems described earlier.

The VA published a study in 2010 looking into Cumulative Lead Exposure throughout life.  This study finds chronic cumulative exposure had a significant link to decreased hearing, especially in the high frequencies.  It also noted that those in occupations which expose them to lead and noise  are at higher risk of hearing loss.  In my research, an article caught my attention because it focused not only on occupational exposure, but on recreational as well.  An indoor firing range can be used for career and/or recreational purposes (remember, I’m from Wyoming and shooting is a way of life). But this environment exposes individuals not only to noise, but to lead as well.

We need to watch not only our children, but all of our loved ones and those we see in our offices for exposure to lead.


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