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Painter's Colic

Painter's Colic (Colica pictorum). The continued absorption into the system of minute doses of certain lead salts gives rise to a form of chronic poisoning known as plumbism. One of the most characteristic symptoms is the occurrence of severe attacks of abdominal pain associated with obstinate constipation, and in some cases certain nervous symptoms are also present, the best known of which is the characteristic wrist-drop due to paralysis of the muscles which extend the wrist upon the fore-arm. In rare instances optic atrophy and convulsive seizures occur in connection with lead-poisoning, and plumbism appears to have some connection with gout. A remarkable symptom which is usually present in the subjects of lead-poisoning, and which materially facilitates the diagnosis of the condition, is the "lead-line," a blue line which is developed at the margin of the gums at the point of junction with the teeth. Lead-poisoning may originate in many ways. It is sometimes due to the action of drinking-water upon the leaden pipes through which it is conveyed for domestic use. It was at one time common in Devonshire, and was attributed to the use of leaden vessels in the manufacture of cider in that county. The usual cause of the disease nowadays is the manipulation of salts of lead which is carried on by those who work in places where white-lead is manufactured, and by those engaged in the glazing of pottery and by painters, plumbers, etc. Treatment consists in the removal of the cause where possible, and in the case of those who must continue their employment the most careful attention to cleanliness is imperative. Improvement in processes of manufacture has of late years considerably diminished the number of cases of the disease.

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