Arsenic is one of the most notoriously poisonous metallic elements on earth. It has an atomic number of 33, atomic mass of 74.92 amu, and it got isolated by Albertus Magnus, a German Dominican, in the year 1250. One important fact is that this element possesses the property of both metals and non-metals, ergo, it is classified under the Metalloid elements in the Mendeleev's Periodic Table.
Chronic poisoning is linked to drinking contaminated well water over a long period of time. It is interesting to know that the compounds which make this element or metalloid are more toxic than the element itself. For instance, the compound arsenic trioxide is known to induce more damage than arsenic in its pure form.
The common symptoms which indicate that a person is affected by arsenic poisoning may include:
- Increased agitation for no apparent reason
- Abnormal thirst
- Allergic reaction
- Chest pain or a feeling of tightness in the chest
- Digestive problem such as constipation
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth
- Ear ache
- Excessive perspiration
- Irregular pulse
- Lack of sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Mouth sores
- Nausea, vomiting
- Pale skin
- Post nasal drip
- Rapid breathing
- Reduced urination
- Skin becomes dark
- Skin lesions
- Sore throat
- Spells of drowsiness
- Spitting up of blood
- Tenderness and swelling of different parts of the body such as the ankles, feet or hands
- Weight loss
The lungs, skin, kidneys, and liver are the organs of the body that are hugely affected by this condition. This is a matter best left to medical experts. So the right thing to do is to call for medical help as soon as you suspect the poisoning. Normally, in most types of metallic poisoning, chelating agents are used for removing the metal from the bloodstream.
In this case, the agents are dimercaprol and dimercaptosuccinic acid. The treatment options also include the removal of this poisonous element by hemodialysis. However, this poisonous metal can be removed from the blood via this method, only if the procedure is followed before the metalloid bind to the tissues. Bowel cleansing is another treatment option that might be followed in case the element has been ingested.
In a certain study, laboratory rats were fed with water contaminated with this metalloid daily. The animals were also fed with garlic extracts everyday. Results showed that the amount of arsenic in their blood reduced to 40% and that 45% more of the toxin was excreted through urine. Now what made garlic do this trick? It is nothing but the sulfur in it, that helps in removing this metalloid from the blood and tissues.
What the study meant to prove was, people who stay at a high risk zone of being exposed to this poisonous metalloid, must include garlic as an important part of their daily diet. 1 - 2 cloves are enough to prevent the poisoning. In some cases, eating fiber-rich foods has also shown great improvements in reducing the danger of the poisoning.
On a concluding note, it is always better to prevent exposure to this metalloid, and if you suspect that you have been exposed, do seek medical help at the earliest.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.