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Doctors Blog: Mercury Toxicity

Mercury Toxicity: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment by COEM in Charleston SC

High exposure to inorganic mercury may result in damage to the gastrointestinal tract, the nervous system, and the kidneys. Visit The Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) today to get specialized and comprehensive care. For more information, contact us today or schedule an appointment online. We are conveniently located at 7510 North Forest Drive North Charleston, SC 29420.

Mercury Toxicity: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment by COEM in Charleston SC
Mercury Toxicity: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment by COEM in Charleston SC

Table of Contents:

Mercury Toxicity and Treatment: Important Facts
Mercury Poisoning Symptoms in Adults & Children
Causes of Mercury Toxicity
Health Effects of Mercury Exposure
Prevention Tips to Reduce Effects of Mercury Exposure
Mercury Toxicity Treatment

Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that is widespread in nature. Most mercury exposure to humans is due to the ingestion of contaminated fish, the release of mercury from dental amalgam, or occupational exposure.

Mercury Toxicity and Treatment: Important Facts

Mercury toxicity in humans varies according to the type of mercury concerned, the dose, the age of the person, and the route and rate of exposure. Mercury vapors inhaled usually target the brain, whereas mercuric salts primarily damage the kidney and gut lining. Also, remember that significant acute exposures to mercury can cause severe pneumonitis, which in severe cases can be fatal. However, low-grade chronic exposures cause subtler symptoms.

Mercury toxicity treatment primarily consists of removing the patient from the source of exposure, chelation therapy, and supportive care.

Mercury Poisoning Symptoms in Adults & Children

Symptoms of mercury poisoning generally include fatigue, sluggishness, depression, headaches, and irritability. Inhalation of mercury vapors also causes respiratory symptoms like breathlessness, coughing, burning pain and tightness in the chest. Some people may also experience pulmonary edema, fibrosis, and pneumonia.

Mercury poisoning can affect adults, children, and infants alike. Some of the common mercury toxicity symptoms are discussed briefly below:

Mercury poisoning symptoms in adults

• Difficulties related to hearing and speech
• muscle weakness
• lack of coordination
• nerve loss in face and hands
• vision changes
• trouble walking

Mercury poisoning symptoms in children and infants

Mercury poisoning is also found to disrupt fetal and initial childhood development. Infants and small children who have been exposed to elevated mercury levels may have delays in:

• fine motor skills
• cognition
• language and speech development
• visual-spatial awareness

Causes of Mercury Toxicity

Seafood consumption and the use of dental amalgam are the most common cause of mercury poisoning. Other causes include direct or environmental exposure to mercury from any of the following sources:

• exposure to certain types of jewelry
• mining for gold
• some vaccinations
• contact with a broken house thermometer or blood pressure monitoring device
• exposure to old paints
• inhalation of toxic air in areas near coal factories

Health Effects of Mercury Exposure

Methylmercury and Elemental mercury are fatal to the central as well as peripheral nervous systems. Mercury vapor inhalation can also produce damaging effects on kidneys, lungs, and damage nervous, immune, and digestive systems. Apart from these, the inorganic salts of mercury are destructive to the eyes, skin, GI tract, etc., and may also cause kidney toxicity if ingested.

Prevention Tips to Reduce Effects of Mercury Exposure

There are many ways to prevent adverse health effects due to mercury poisoning. These include stopping the usage of mercury in gold mining, promoting clean energy, reducing the extraction of mercury and phasing out mercury-containing products such as batteries, mercury thermometers, blood pressure monitors using mercury, mercury lamps, electric switches, dental amalgam used for dental fillings, certain skin-lightening products containing mercury.

Also Read – Mold Exposure Health Risks: Can Mold Make You Sick?

Mercury Toxicity Treatment

Chelation therapy is the recommended treatment for any heavy metal toxicity, including mercury. Before opting for a chelation treatment, our center’s doctors carry out a comprehensive diagnostic work-up, laboratory testing, and various treatments to tackle different aspects of the disease. Any heavy metal toxicity, including mercury, can become fatal if not given expert treatment. Therefore, always consult experts in the field if you happen to suffer from any heavy metal toxicity.

Call us today at 843-572-1600 or book an appointment with our experts for the treatment of heavy metal toxicity and mercury toxicity treatments.

Dr. Allan D Lieberman

Dr. Allan Lieberman is the founder and the medical director of the Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine (COEM) which specializes in Environmental Medicine and Toxicology. Dr. Lieberman has been practicing medicine for the last 58 years, and as a research scientist, he has published many research articles. He is a highly-respected member of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and also specializes in Pediatrics. We serve patients from Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville, North Charleston SC, Ladson SC, Hanahan SC, James Island SC, John’s Island SC, Daniel Island SC, all of South Carolina, Nationally, and Internationally. Patients routinely fly into Charleston to be evaluated by COEM and to enjoy this beautiful city which is a Condé Nast and Travel and Leisure Top Domestic and International Tourist Destination.