Welding work is exhausting and hazardous at the same time. Most welders have frequently complained about feeling sick and tired after welding. If you are a welder you should know that welding work can have dangerous consequences on your health.
Some chemical changes occur during welding, which produces harmful chemicals and gases. These gases can cause long-term health consequences. Moreover, these gases can cause prompt sickness too.
If you are associated with welding works in any way, you must know the prime factors that cause sickness during or after welding. You should know in detail the manifestations of the after-welding illness, how to treat such a case, what precautions you must take as a welder, and the long-term issues with welding work. Please read the entire article to know further.
Why Do People Feel Sick After Welding?
Welding causes the liberation of several gases and poisonous elements. When you inhale this polluted air, it affects all parts of your body. Mainly, it causes damage to your respiratory system.
Clearly, the houses we live in, the offices we work in, everywhere we need these welders. Unfortunately, there is no alternative to welding galvanized steel. So, if you are a welder, you must understand how this can affect you.
In this regard, there have been tons of complaints from welders all over. Many have reported that they experienced flu-like sickness or asthmatic illnesses. In addition, some have reported feeling nauseous, weak, and tired. Actually, what they couldn’t understand is what was the causative factor behind all these problems.
Welding sickness also called Metal Fume Fever, or Galvanization Flu is an occupational hazard. Galvanization is a chemical process. It means adding a protective and inert layer of zinc to your steel to prevent it from rusting. While galvanizing steel, the chemical reactions between steel, air, and the galvanizing components release many chemicals.
Most importantly, if you end up inhaling these bad fumes to a large amount, they can cause damage to your organs. The main culprits are-
- Zinc Oxide
- Chlorinated hydrocarbons
- Carbon monoxide etc.
Besides, if you have some knowledge in chemistry, you must know how each of these elements can be dangerous. Some of these elements are so bad that they can be carcinogenic.
Furthermore, these chemicals cause changes in the lining of your respiratory tracts and result in many diseases like asthma, pneumonia, sarcoidosis, chronic bronchitis, etc. They can also affect other systems in your body.
Exposure to these chemicals has been restricted to limits by the WHO itself. Healthcare organizations have come up with certain ranges up to which the vulnerability can be considered safe.
Manifestations of After-Welding Sickness
You may not even know that the welding fumes are making you sick. These fumes are silent killers! Some people develop symptoms real quick. On the other hand, some progress to worse conditions faster. Despite this, some may not show any manifestations at all!
Welding can affect most systems in your body. If you take a closer look at the signs and symptoms, you will understand this better. Let us discuss the commonest manifestations.
The first affected system is the respiratory system. It is common sense because inhaling the gases will obviously affect your respiratory passages first.
Take a look at these symptoms and observe if you have these. Some common diseases with their symptoms are:
Metal Fume Fever
It is the commonest disease. It usually presents at the weekend or on just a regular Monday. Nevertheless, it can show immediately after an exposure too.
Moreover, symptoms are similar to a flu-like illness. People also complained of feeling tired and weak at the beginning of weekdays.
It is mainly an allergic disease. It presents with cough, wheezy respirations, tightness in the chest, allergies, fever, etc.
Asthma has many variants. In the case of welding, the commonest asthma is the allergic variety. Exposure to the chemicals mainly results in this.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
It is a disease of the elderly. It commonly occurs in smokers. The gases can cause inflammatory changes in your respiratory passages and ultimately impede the pathway.
It presents with chest tightness, breathlessness, fatigue, noisy respirations, etc. This disease is often progressive and requires medications for treatment.
The commonest respiratory disease caused by welding work is pneumonia. The actual term is pneumoconiosis or, as you may have heard often – Welder’s lung.
The metallic fumes can deposit in your lungs and ultimately present with cough, fever, shortness of breath, etc.
Among other notable diseases are sarcoidosis, occupational asthma, lung cancer, and other obstructive lung diseases.
Lastly, all these can be prevented if sufficient safety measures are taken. You should not avoid any precautionary measures before welding work.
Many welders come to the emergency department with red-eye or an arc eye or Welder’s flash after welding. This is quite common. In this case, the notorious factor behind it is the emission of ultraviolet rays from the welding materials.
The ultraviolet radiation can cause damage to your eyeball, and ultimately, your vision. Some important diseases are-
The bad rays and the ultraviolet light enter your eyes through the cornea. The cornea is the dark, circular thing you can see in your eye. It should be noted, the cornea is the primary interface for these radiations. Consequently, the ultraviolet radiation causes more damage to your cornea and results in a painful condition called Arc Eye.
It presents with painful vision, redness, and congestion in the eyes. If you develop this, you must give your eyes a good rest. Wear a protective shield or goggles to avoid having Arc Eye.
It is a cancerous condition. As you can guess, the radiation is often harmful and ultimately may lead to ocular melanoma. Although it is rare, it can’t be overlooked.
Basically, melanoma of eyes and skin are the most dangerous ones. Moreover, all cancers result from genetic mutations.
Skin and Integumentary System
The first protective barrier against all types of injuries is our skin. Of course, the organisms, chemicals, and radiation we are continuously exposed to, first have to go through our skin and integuments.
Besides, the hazardous chemicals produced from welding affect your skin and produce many diseases. These are quite common in welders. Namely-
Dermatitis And Erythema
It may be a case of allergic dermatitis. It means inflammation of a layer of your skin. So it can present with itching, redness, hives, etc. Mostly, it occurs due to Nickel exposure.
Erythema typically means skin redness. Chronic irritations from the fumes and chemicals cause redness at places in your skin. Also, it can occur from burns due to welding flashes and fumes. This is called Welder’s Burn.
It is bad because it may be a precancerous condition. Common presentations are – areas of hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation, patches, etc.
So, use protective measures to prevent this condition. Reduce your exposure by using all the safety materials you need.
The common presentation of after-welding sickness is related to your gastrointestinal health. In addition, diseases of other systems may also present with gut manifestations.
The commonly faced issues are – nausea, vomiting, bloating, cramps, problems with digestion, fatigue, dryness of mouth and throat, pain, etc.
As I said, welding fumes can affect all organs. Your nervous system is not exempted either. There have been multiple types of research on this topic. The main culprit behind the neurological problems is Manganese.
Manganese is very poisonous to our bodies. Most industrial workers ultimately became victims of chronic diseases because of manganese exposure. Besides, the most common diseases are-
Parkinson’s Disease is common in today’s world. Certain chemical changes in your brain cause this disease. It is mainly the disease of the elderly.
Most importantly, it presents four main symptoms- slowness of movements, rigidities, tremors, stooping posture. In addition, there might be speech and balance disorders.
Other neurological issues you may develop are – paralysis, muscular weakness, easy fatigability, spastic gait, malaise, back pains, confusion, insomnia, or worse, encephalopathies.
The neurological symptoms take a longer time to develop but these must not be overlooked. Because they make you crippled for life long!
First Aid Management Of Sickness Due To Welding
If you are experiencing mild sickness after welding works, you may try these home remedies. Nonetheless, if your condition has worsened alarmingly, you must consult a physician as soon as possible.
Here, I have tried to recapitulate the basic home remedies that you can try. Most people have reported that they achieved good results after trying these. Moreover, these are so easy and anyone can do them! These are for mild after-welding sicknesses and the eye issues that most welders face. So, take a look at them!
Drink Plenty of Milk
Milk has enormous health benefits. It not only contains a lot of good nutrients but also can act as a universal antidote to all harmful chemicals. You will notice, in most welding workshops, welders are often advised to drink plenty of milk every day. By doing so, they have benefited too!
Drink lots of milk every day. This can cure your welding sickness and absorb all the harmful chemicals. Hence, it prevents the long-term effects.
Use Grated Potatoes
Potatoes have cooling and soothing effects. These are very good remedies for arc eye or red eyes after welding. Grate a potato and collect the gratings in a thin piece of dampened cloth. Make a small potato bag, the size of a dumpling, and use the bags on your eyes.
Lie down and put the potato bags over your eyes. Keep it for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Repeat this every day twice or thrice. Your eyes will feel a lot better.
Use Milk-Soaked Cotton Pads
In addition to all the benefits described above, milk also contains a wide array of enzymes. These are strong and healthy. For this purpose, dip a cotton pad in milk and then put it in the fridge for a significant amount of time.
After that, put the cotton pads on your eyes for about fifteen minutes or so. Repeat this until you feel better. There are alternatives too. For instance, you can also use cold rose water instead of milk.
Use Tea Bags
You can use soaked tea bags for your eyes. Dip in the tea bag in a bowl of water and then leave it on your eyes for a good twenty minutes. Moreover, you may also use used tea bags.
Teabags are good for soothing the under eyes. It can reduce pain and inflammation to a great extent. So, repeat this until necessary.
Use Almond Oil
Almond oil is so good for your skin. It is very effective in treating Welder’s burns. Use a generous amount on the areas that have become red and inflamed. Massage gently and keep it for a few minutes. After that, wash it off.
Do not rub forcefully. Rub the oil subtly. Otherwise, you will end up hurting your skin badly. Moreover, it is already sensitive to all burns and irritations. Therefore, handle it with care.
Use A Wet Towel
This is by far the easiest home remedy. Dampen a towel by dipping it in cold water. Then, put this over the affected area. This will make you feel a lot better.
You can also use ice bags instead. But ice can sometimes cause cold burns or frostbites. Besides, some people can’t tolerate too much cold. So, a wet towel is the best you can do!
Drink Lots of Water And Eat Healthily
You should drink at least one and a half to two liters of fluid every day. Undoubtedly, you should drink plenty of water. It can neutralize the toxins and dilute the harmful chemicals. Besides, it will help to eliminate these toxins through urine.
Also, you must eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat the ones that are rich in antioxidants. These will help you to prevent long-term consequences like cancer and other progressive diseases. Eat plenty of vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, you can grow in your homestead to cut short your expenses! So, yeah, why not!
Sleeping is an escape for your body from the constant tiring mechanisms it has to run every day. Several studies show that sleeping properly decreases your chances of developing any disease to a lot less.
In fact, sleep for about eight to nine hours every day. It is extremely important for your health. Indeed, sleeping less can overburden your body and increase your risk of developing illnesses. So, keep this time allotted for sleep in your schedule. No compromises with health!
Long-term Health Hazards Of Welding Work
If you think you do not have any of the symptoms you described above, consider yourself lucky for now. Because in the long run, it might cause serious damages and pose a great challenge to your health.
The long-term health hazards of welding works are worse than the immediate sicknesses. Besides, they can result in progressive non-treatable diseases. Some worth mentioning diseases are-
It is rapidly progressing and very fatal. The ultraviolet radiations, harmful chemicals, etc. cause mutations in your genes which can lead to cancer. It is as bad as it sounds.
For instance, the most common cancers associated with welding are – lung cancers, ocular cancers, skin cancers, etc. The elements are carcinogenic and the exposure must be limited as per the general health guidelines.
Constant exposure to loud welding noises and vibrations can change your audibility ranges. These can lower your hearing threshold. Eventually, it results in deafness.
Sometimes deafness is not curable. You have to depend on hearing aids for your entire life. Nevertheless, you can also go for advanced treatments if you can.
Chronic exposure to heavy metals can damage your central nervous system and result in paralysis and muscular damages. It is a crippling disease for old age.
Moreover, try to maintain safety measures as much as you can. Also, if you are careful enough, you can combat most of these diseases. The long-term effects, though rare, can be prevented effectively by following the vital precautions before doing welding work.
Your health is precious. You must take good care of your health. You have now understood the bad effects and long-term consequences of welding. But these are all preventable if you stay careful.
The only way to remain careful is to follow some basic precautionary measures and health guidelines. These should be enforced in all welding workshops considering the general health of the workers. In fact, in most places, these are effective at work. Let us take a look!
- Always try to do the welding work in a well-ventilated and nicely aerated area. This will facilitate the toxic gases to flow away with the air.
- Never do welding in a closed and confined room.
- Use a ventilation system. You can use exhaust fans to facilitate expelling the toxic fumes.
- Wear protective shields, protective clothing, masks, goggles, etc. to protect yourself from the chemicals and radiation. You can wear earmuffs or earplugs to protect your ears from noise and vibration.
- Clean the surfaces to prevent the deposition of toxic materials on them. These can accumulate and increase your risks of exposure.
- Do not use chlorinated hydrocarbons for removing grease.
- If you are experiencing a symptom or two, remove yourself from the source of hazard and stop working for a few days. If your condition is bad enough, get medical help.
- Always remain updated on the regulations of welding work and the limits of exposure to harmful chemicals. Therefore, follow the basic guidelines strictly.
Welding work can impose serious damage to your health. It is not something that can be denied or overlooked. If you are feeling sick and tired after welding, definitely you need some medical attention. You must get thoroughly checked. You must take all necessary precautions to remain very careful.
In this article, I tried to explain all the important aspects of welding work and how it can affect your health. I hope this article benefited you to know about welding works and what to do if it is making you sick. The remedies I explained will surely help you a lot! Thank you for reading the entire article with patience. Have a good day!