Toxicity due to fluoride is manifested when the ingested amount is 5 g or more than that. Fluoride poisoning treatment encompasses gastric aspiration and lavage procedure, preferably within a few hours after ingesting fluoride salts. Read on to know more.
Fluoride toxicity is due to ingestion of sodium fluoride and other commonly used salts of fluorine in high amounts. Knowingly or unknowingly, fluoride is introduced in the body via various means, like water, food, toothpaste, medicines and insecticides. Treating water with fluoride (fluoridation) is followed with an objective of improving dental health and preventing tooth cavities. What remains hidden is that it poses dangers to teeth, bones and many other vital organs of the body. Let’s look into the symptoms of fluoride toxicity and fluoride poisoning treatment.
Lethal Dose of Fluoride Salts
While fluorine compounds are safe to a certain degree, they are potent toxins at an elevated dosage. But, how much of fluoride salt is toxic for humans? Well, the lethal dose differs in accordance to the body weight of the person, and is considered as 32 to 64 mg of fluoride per kilogram of the individual’s body weight. To be more precise, ingesting 5-10 g of elemental fluoride can lead to poisoning symptoms. Medical complications occur, if the fluoride level in public water supply exceeds 8 ppm (parts per million).
Symptoms of Fluoride Poisoning
Fluoride poisoning treatment options are purported with an aim to reverse the damages caused by fluoride salts. The ingested fluoride is absorbed by the mucosa lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Inside the body, fluoride affects the enzymatic activities. It combines with calcium and leads to mineral depletion. Thus, fluoride poisoning is associated with mottled teeth, osteoporosis, skeletal fluorosis and bone degenerative diseases. Other than bone related malfunctions, it increases the risk of hair loss, asthma, diabetes, hypothyroidism, gastrointestinal disorders, heart diseases, neurological problems and birth abnormalities. In short, fluoride is more toxic than lead, and affects each and every part of the body.
Treatment for Fluoride Poisoning
Maximum instances of fluoride toxicity are related to intentional ingestion of sodium fluoride, in the form of pesticides and similar insect killing agents. Immediate sodium fluoride poisoning treatment is done by administering calcium carbonate, milk of magnesia and other dietary calcium supplements. These calcium sources help in lowering the rate of fluoride absorption in the body parts. Clinical diagnosis is done with the help of urine tests and radiography procedures. Upon reaching the hospital, the afflicted person is kept under observation for monitoring heartbeat and vital signs.
Coming to therapeutic intervention of fluoride poisoning, the doctor will conduct nasogastric aspiration to remove fluoride salts as much as possible. The effectiveness of this procedure depends on how quickly it has been performed after fluoride ingestion. Prompt results are expected for patients, if the said treatment is done within one hour of poisoning. Calcium is delivered intravenously to restore normal levels in the body, which otherwise is depleted from the body. This not only helps in replenishing the lost calcium, but it also binds to fluoride and aids in expelling it from the body.
At other times, gastric aspiration is followed by lavage to remove traces of fluoride, which remain after emptying the stomach. Also, lavage is an effective option for delayed hospitalization cases, as it works even after 12 hours of fluoride ingestion. Regarding remedies for fluoride poisoning, remember that fluoride alters the body pH by forming hydrofluoric acid in the stomach. Thus, taking acidic foods is strictly not recommended, and is linked with aggravation of gastrointestinal symptoms. For mild cases of fluoride contact symptoms, either in the skin or eyes, rinsing the exposed parts with clean water is recommended to flush off the toxins. In addition, treatment involves preventing further exposure to fluoride salts.
As an approach to minimize risks of fluoride poisoning in the United States, the amount of fluorine salts added in municipal water supply has been reduced to 0.7 mg/L of water (previously it was 1.2 mg/L). With this prompt step, toxicity caused due to drinking of fluoridated water is likely to become less in future. However, precautionary steps are still needed from the individual’s side to prevent increased exposure to fluoride salts.