In some cases, which are more commonly seen in India, there’s a chance that you might end up having to deal with excess pain, bent shoulders and even stained teeth just for consuming water. That is the result of an illness known as Fluorosis, caused by the presence of Fluoride in drinking water.
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Fluorosis – the consequences of excess Fluoride
As we’ve mentioned earlier, Fluorosis is the result of consuming water that contains a large quantity of Fluoride. Although, that’s not to say that, Fluoride itself is harmful. A certain amount can actually be good for your teeth. But there’s a limit. If you go beyond that limit, then the chances of you acquiring the disease increases.
According to WHO, consuming more than 1.5 mg/l of Fluoride can be harmful to health.
Though the disease may seem manageable, it can still leave a person crippled for a long period, as it causes bones to twist and hampers mobility.
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Types of Fluorosis
There are two types of Fluorosis. They are Dental Fluorosis and Skeletal Fluorosis.
Dental Fluorosis comes from prolonged contact with high concentrations of Fluorine during the development of the teeth. As it occurs during such a time, it results in the formation of enamel that has high porosity and low mineral content.
Since it happens during teeth development, you’ll mostly observe this form of the disease in children around the age group of 1 to 4 years. Dental Fluorosis will be much less prevalent in children from age 8 and onwards, as they have a permanent establishment of teeth.
On the other hand, Skeletal Fluorosis causes damage to the rest of the body below the head. Specifically, it affects the skeletal structure of the body. This form of the disease occurs when there are disturbances in calcium metabolism at the time of bone formations.
Also, Skeletal Fluorosis can aggravate osteoporosis in adults, and rickets in children as well. The calcium levels in the bones are going to go low into dangerous levels while the calcium in blood shoots up to be abnormally high. Sometimes, the disease may even lead to crippling or bone cancer.
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Effects of excess Fluoride on health
While problems with teeth and bone deformities are the most noticeable effects of consuming too much Fluoride, there are also other concerning issues that come up. If anyone drinks water with high levels of Fluoride, they might even notice effects in multiple other functions of their body.
For a start, a person with Fluorosis doesn’t have the right amount of calcium in the body most of the time. As a result, people who are a little fragile, like pregnant women, children, and people above 40 may suffer from calcium-related diseases.
Moreover, Fluorosis also reduces the body’s iron absorption capabilities. As such, it may result in the drinker suffering from anaemia. This can also be a more significant risk to pregnant women, as children are born underweight.
Of course, you may ask why our toothpaste contains Fluoride if Fluoride is so bad for health. Well, that’s because the toothpaste contains a small, controlled amount of it. Hence, there aren’t any chances of Dental or Skeletal Fluorosis occurring. The World Health Organization has specified that drinking more than 1.5 mg/litre of Fluoride increases the chances of Fluorosis.
It seems that the frequency of Fluorosis in the rural parts of India is escalating, as the population increases and the water gets corrupted. More than 60 million people are drinking water that has a Fluoride content of more than the amount that’s designated as safe. Many people are drinking more than 10mg/day. The need for purified water is now more than ever.
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Places in India where Fluorosis is most common
The rural parts of India are the places most affected by this disease. Fluorosis is frequent in rural places like Orissa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. The moderately affected areas include states like Punjab, Maharashtra, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. Meanwhile, places like Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu are the least affected.
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The first thing you can do is keep an eye out for the signs. Detecting the disease in its early stages will go a long way towards keeping you safe from it. Observe the children’s teeth and check for the Fluoride levels in the water.
You can use simple detection kits meant just for that purpose. They aren’t particularly expensive and are easy enough to use. Though, you can go for more complicated but also precise options like using Ion electrodes. Blood and urine can also be checked for an estimation of the Fluoride levels.
Another thing you can do is find a safer source of water. Tap water plays a vital part in causing Fluorosis, as the water suppliers tend to add industrial Fluoridation chemicals to the water.
Having a calcium-rich diet of green vegetables, eggs, milk and vitamin C also help in building immunity to Fluorosis.
Also, do note that if you want to go for purification, the most effective methods for purifying water from Fluoride are Activated Alumina and Reverse Osmosis. Most RO Water Purifiers actually use Reverse Osmosis as their primary purification method, so you could get these to keep the water clean and healthy.
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Fluorosis can reach dangerous proportions if it isn’t dealt with early on. Detecting it early and preventing too much Fluoride from entering the body are the best ways you can counter Fluorosis.
Furthermore, creating public awareness can also help deal with the issue. Most rural areas have excessive amounts of Fluoride in drinking water. The more people in these areas know about the disease and its effects, the better they’re equipped to deal with it.
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