Mercury is a naturally occurring substance and is found in air, soil and water. It exists in quite a few forms: inorganic compounds, organic compounds and metallic mercury. Mercury is found in several foods and other products. It is contained in fish that are caught in local lakes or bought at a store.
Mercury is an extremely poisonous substance and the most commonly found and used compound is mercuric sulfide. Mercury sulfide is used in batteries, paint, and several household and industrial items. Its most popular use is in a thermometer. It is also used in amalgam dental fillings.
Because of its diverse application, the risk of exposure is quite high. Overexposure causes mercury poisoning. Mercury poisoning tends to affect every system within our body.
Common Causes And Symptoms Of Mercury Poisoning
Mercury poisoning occurs due to undue exposure to the element:
- Amalgam dental fillings are the principal cause of poisoning.
- Consuming fish that has been exposed to mercury in the environment.
- Workplace exposure, like in a paint industry or at a hospital is a would-be risk.
- Breakage of thermometer can result in serious mercury poisoning. The vapors tend to hang back in the air can be dangerous.
- Cosmetics (such as bleaching products) are also known to cause poisoning.
Mercury Poisoning Symptoms
- Psychological Disturbances:
Short term memory loss, anger and rage, reduced confidence, sleep irregularities, and loss of self-control, are known to occur.
- Oral Cavity Problems:
Inflammation of the mouth, ulcers of the gums, loss of bone around teeth, taste of metal, and bleeding gums are frequently seen.
- Digestive Tract Disorders:
Cramps, diarrhea, bowel inflammation, etc are indicative of mercury poisoning.
- Cardiovascular Trouble
Blood pressure changes, pressure sensation in the chest area and chest pain are associated with poisoning.
- Respiratory problems:
Breathing difficulty, emphysema, constant cough are commonly seen.
- Neurological Problems:
Vertigo, headache, tinnitus, and twitching point towards mercury over-exposure.
Treatment For Mercury Poisoning
- Activated Charcoal: While treating mercury poisoning, the crucial step is to get it out of your system as soon as possible; so that the damage is contained. Activated charcoal absorbs mercury and helps throw it out quickly. However, do consult your health care professional or poison control center before doing so.
- Drink Lots of Liquids: Diarrhea and vomiting can dehydrate your body. Hence, drink plenty of water and fluids to keep dehydration at bay. Occasionally, an IV drip may be necessary to combat dehydration.
- Vitamin C: Ascorbic acid helps battle mercury faster. Take a vitamin C supplement or else consumes loads of limes, sweet limes, lemons, oranges and guavas.
- Chelation Therapy: Chelation therapy is done at a hospital. Certain drugs are administered that bond with the mercury and convert it into a less toxic form. It is eliminated from the body via stool or urine. By and large, for mercury poisoning, a drug called dimercaptosuccinic acid or DMSA is used. A laxative will be prescribed as well, to hasten the elimination of mercury from the body.