Mercury poisoning, as the name suggests, occurs due to an exposure to mercury and its compounds. It leads to an infinite number of health problems if a person is exposed to it in high concentrations. The following article will cover some information related to the symptoms and treatment of this health hazard.
Mercury is one of the most poisonous, naturally-occurring substances on earth. It is so harmful that even a single atom of mercury in the body can do loads of harm. The World Health Organization claims that there is no safe level of mercury in the body. Directly or indirectly, the condition can cause a number of chronic health problems.
Ingesting infected fish is one of the most common causes in humans, as well as animals. If the poisoning occurs by eating tuna, swordfish, etc., it poses a greater risk as compared to smaller fish species. Studies have shown that the risk of mercury poisoning from eating sushi made from fish such as, shark, swordfish, blue fin tuna, and the like, is very high. Therefore, one should avoid these high-end fish and stick to two helpings of fish or shellfish per week. Exposure to mercury is also possible through breathing air contaminated with mercury vapors, eating foods that contain mercury residues, mercury amalgam dental restorations, and bio-accumulation of mercury in soil, water, and air. Stationary combustion of coal also leads to mercury saturation in atmosphere. Gold production, nonferrous metal production, waste disposal, cement production, caustic soda, pig iron, steel, mercury production, etc., all add to mercury concentration in water, soil, and air. Even hair-bleaching products are known to cause this form of poisoning.
There are a number of symptoms that affect many organs in the body. The following table will cover a list of the chronic symptoms affecting various areas of the body.
|Nervous System Disorders||
|Psychological & Behavioral Effects||
Treatment for the condition includes identification of the source of poisoning. After identification of the source, one needs to begin decontamination of the clothes, skin, and eyes as needed. In case of medical therapy, the patient is put on immediate chelation therapy. The chelation therapy is used in case of acute inorganic mercury poisoning. The FDA approved chelating agent that can also be used for children is Dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA). Other chelation agents include, 2,3-dimercapto-1-propanesulfonic acid (DMPS), D-penicillamine (DPCN), or dimercaprol (BAL). One should keep in mind that chelation therapy may prove to be fatal, like EDTA used for treatment of mercury poising led to the death of a 5-year-old autistic boy in August 2005.
Prognosis shows this condition is partially or fully reversible. Treatment is possible if the source of poisoning is totally removed. However, an extensive mercury exposure can lead to irreversible damage especially in fetus, infants, children, and pregnant women.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is meant for educating the reader only and should not be considered as an alternative to an expert medical advice.