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Does exposure to VOCs lead to damage of brain nerve cells?

DOCTOR OF THE MONTH - Nov 2013
Nov 2013
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Neurologist
Practicing since : 1994
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Hi There, I am reaching out to you because I had some questions about an incident that happened this weekend. My landlord is remodeling the apartment below me. He's put varnish on the floors and pained the apartment. The issue is that due to the cold weather, they've kept all the windows closed. So, when I entered my apartment, the fumes were very strong and I got lightheaded and got a headache. I'm wondering if the headache means that I'm losing brain cells and lowering my intelligence because of the incident. I've since opened the windows but the smell has lingered for a few days and I worry about the consistent exposure to VOCs for my mental health, as I'm sleeping and living in the apartment, so I'm breathing in these fumes constantly. Can you let me know if this level of exposure has done damage? I appreciate the reply. I've been very worried about what happened all weekend. Thank you!
Posted Mon, 17 Feb 2014 in Brain and Spine
 
 
Answered by Dr. Sudhir Kumar 7 hours later
Brief Answer: My reply is below. Detailed Answer: Hi, Thank you for posting your query. First of all, I would like to reassure you that there is no need to worry about any damage to your brain nerve cells due to this exposure. I agree there is minimal exposure to VOCs after recent painting, however, the amount is too small to cause any significant/permanent damage to the brain nerve cells. It would be advisable to keep the windows open for a few more days to minimise the exposure. The ill effects are more in children; in adults, no harmful effects are noted in the long run. I hope my answer helps. Please get back if you have any follow up queries or if you require any additional information. Wishing you good health, Dr Sudhir Kumar MD (Internal Medicine), DM (Neurology) XXXXXXX Consultant Neurologist Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad, India Click on this link to ask me a DIRECT QUERY: http://bit.ly/Dr-Sudhir-kumar My BLOG: http://bestneurodoctor.blogspot.in
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Follow-up: Does exposure to VOCs lead to damage of brain nerve cells? 9 hours later
Thanks Doctor. So, what about the lightheadedness? Doesn't that mean that brain cells are dying? I just worry about the prolonged exposure being that the fumes are in my apartment and are staying there for days. I just worry about the danger of such a prolonged exposure. I've read about how these fumes can cause brain damage. How do they cause this damage?
 
 
Answered by Dr. Sudhir Kumar 6 minutes later
Brief Answer: Thank you for getting back. Detailed Answer: Hi, The lightheadedness is mostly due to temporary affects on the vestibular system. These symptoms would go away in a few days and there is no risk of permanent brain damage. I hope it helps. Best wishes, Dr Sudhir Kumar MD DM (Neurology)
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Does exposure to VOCs lead to damage of brain nerve cells? 21 minutes later
Thanks. Sorry to seem crazy but how would one get brain damage from these fumes? Also, being that my apartment wasn't ventilated, isn't it possible that I got slight damage? I just worry because I've been feeling foggy.
 
 
Answered by Dr. Sudhir Kumar 4 minutes later
Brief Answer: Thank you for getting back. Detailed Answer: When one inhales fumes, it goes to lungs. From the lungs, the gases get mixed with blood. As the blood goes to all body parts including brain, a small part of VOCs also reach the brain. If the brain is delicate, as in children, the risk of brain damage is more. However, in adults, the risk with these exposures is not there. Best wishes, Dr Sudhir Kumar MD DM (Neurology)
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Follow-up: Does exposure to VOCs lead to damage of brain nerve cells? 4 minutes later
Thanks doctor. So, even though I was near these fumes, I didn't do any serious damage? I'm not losing my intelligence due to the experience, right?
 
 
Answered by Dr. Sudhir Kumar 3 minutes later
Brief Answer: Yes. Detailed Answer: Yes, you are not going to lose your intelligence and all other important brain functions (such as memory, language, etc) due to the exposure to the fumes. This is because you could not have had any serious damage to the brain nerve cells. Best wishes, Dr Sudhir Kumar MD DM (Neurology)
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