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Burton’s Line from Chronic Lead Intoxication

By September 2, 2020No Comments

Chronic poisoning usually presents with symptoms affecting multiple systems, but is associated with three main types of symptoms: gastrointestinal, neuromuscular, and neurological. Central nervous system and neuromuscular symptoms usually result from intense exposure, while gastrointestinal symptoms usually result from exposure over longer periods.

Signs of chronic exposure include loss of short-term memory or concentration, depression, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of coordination, and numbness and tingling in the extremities. Fatigue, problems with sleep, headaches, stupor, slurred speech, and anemia are also found in chronic lead poisoning. A “lead hue” of the skin with pallor and/or lividity is another feature.

A blue line along the gum with bluish black edging to the teeth, known as a Burton line, is another indication of chronic lead poisoning.

Children with chronic poisoning may refuse to play or may have hyperkinetic or aggressive behavior disorders. Visual disturbance may present with gradually progressing blurred vision as a result of central scotoma, caused by toxic optic neuritis

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