Heavy metal poisoning

What is heavy metal poisoning?

Heavy metal poisoning can happen when you’re exposed to a lot of certain types of metals. It makes you sick and affects the way your body works.

Heavy metals, like arsenic, lead, mercury, and others, are all around us. They’re in the ground we walk on, in the water we drink, and in the products we use every day. But high levels of most heavy metals can cause health problems.

Heavy metal poisoning is caused by the accumulation of certain metals in the body due to exposure through food, water, industrial chemicals, or other sources. The poisoning can happen if you eat or drink something tainted with heavy metals or if you breathe in contaminated dust or fumes.

There are many heavy metals, including:

  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Zinc.

Not all of these metals are bad for you. We need small amounts of some of them, such as copper and iron, to keep our bodies healthy.

Heavy metal poisoning causes and risk factors

Image: Essentialmedispaandsalon

You might get heavy metal poisoning if you:

  • Work in a factory that uses heavy metals
  • Breathe in or ingest old lead paint dust when you fix up your home
  • Eat fish caught in an area with high levels of mercury
  • Use herbal medicines that have heavy metals in them
  • Use dinnerware that hasn’t been coated well enough to prevent heavy metals from contaminating food
  • Drink water contaminated with heavy metal
  • Ingest insecticides, herbicides, and pesticides.

Heavy metal poisoning symptoms

The signs can vary, depending on the metal and the amount.

Acute poisoning

This happens if you get a high dose at one time, like in a chemical accident in a factory or after a child swallows a toy made with lead. Symptoms usually come on quickly, and you may:

  • Feel confused
  • Go numb
  • Feel sick and throw up
  • Pass out.

You may also have:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Tingling
  • Anemia
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Lung irritation
  • Fluid in your lungs
  • Brain problems or memory loss
  • Horizontal lines on your nails
  • Behavioral changes
  • Weak or malformed bones
  • Miscarriages or premature labor.

Acute poisoning is an emergency. You may need medical intervention right away.

Image: Lifeworkswellnesscenter

Chronic poisoning

You get this after contact with a low dose over a long time. As the metal builds up in your body, you can get sick. Symptoms come on slowly and can include:

  • Headache
  • Weakness and tiredness
  • Achy joints and muscles
  • Constipation.

Drinking water with lead in it can lead to cognitive problems and slower development in kids. Infants who drink formula mixed with tap water are at especially high risk if their drinking water is contaminated.

Heavy metal poisoning diagnosis

Different tests can check for different types of heavy metals. Some might test your blood or pee. Others might require an X-ray. These tests can help your doctor decide if you have heavy metal poisoning, how severe it is, and which heavy metals are involved. They include:

  • CBC (complete blood count)
  • Kidney function tests
  • Urine analysis for proteins
  • Liver function tests
  • Imaging tests (abdominal radiographs)
  • Electrocardiogram.

Your doctor will also ask you about your job, hobbies, diet, and anything else that could have put you in contact with dangerous substances.

Tests for heavy metals aren’t routine. Your doctor would test you only if you show symptoms and there is a history of exposure or a good reason to suspect they are related to heavy metals.

Heavy metal poisoning treatments

The main step is to stay away from whatever made you sick so you don’t make the problem worse. Your doctor can help you figure out how to protect yourself.

Sometimes you might need to have your stomach pumped to get the metals out.

If your poisoning is serious, one treatment option is chelation. You get drugs, usually through an IV needle, that go into your blood and “stick” to the heavy metals in your body. They then get flushed out with your pee.

Chelation can be an important part of treatment. But the therapy can be dangerous, and it doesn’t work with all heavy metals. So doctors use it only if you have high levels of the metal and clear symptoms of poisoning.

Heavy metal poisoning prevention

The following tips may help you prevent heavy metal poisoning:

  • Wear masks and protective clothing if you work around heavy metals
  • Since many metals accumulate in dust and dirt, keep these out of your home as much as possible (remove shoes before entering the house)
  • Pay attention to local fish advisories regarding mercury levels
  • Be aware of potential sources of lead exposure
  • Check for any heavy metals listed on the labels of products you bring into your home.

Source: WEB MD, EVERYDAY HEALTH

About STELLAPHARM

Stellapharm is one of leading generics pharmaceutical companies and strong producer of anti-viral drugs in Vietnam. The company established in Vietnam in 2000; and focuses on both prescription drugs and non-prescription especially in cardiovascular diseases, antiviral drugs, anti-diabetics drugs, etc. and our products are now used by millions of patients in more than 50 countries worldwide.

The company is globally recognized for its quality through our facilities have been audited and approved by stringent authority like EMA, PMDA, Taiwan GMP, local WHO and others.

Additional information for this article: Stellapharm J.V. Co., Ltd. – Branch 1
A: 40 Tu Do Avenue, Vietnam – Singapore Industrial Park, An Phu Ward, Thuan An City, Binh Duong Province, Vietnam
T: +84 274 376 7470 | F: +84 274 376 7469 | E: info@stellapharm.com | W: www.stellapharm.com

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