Poisoning by heavy metals and their salts: symptoms

Heavy metals are widely used in industries, medicine and everyday life. Improper use may develop acute or chronic poisoning, in which major changes occur in the whole organism. In this article we considered heavy metal poisoning, causes and mechanisms of its development, symptoms and clinical signs, methods of first aid and treatment.

The main causes of heavy metal poisoning

Poisoning by salts of heavy metals, most often develops when failure to observe the rules of their use in the production or in everyday life. Most often human poisoning following heavy metals:

  • mercury;
  • lead;
  • zinc;
  • copper;
  • Nickel;
  • antimony.

Poisoning by salts of heavy metals can occur when using them orally or by inhalation.

Please note that it is also dangerous to humans is arsenic. It relates to the metals, is found in some ointments, poisons for insects and rodents.

Heavy-metal intoxication can develop after a single contact with a poisonous substance or as a result of long work with him. Chronic poisoning by salts of heavy metals most often occur in people that use them for work.

Salts of the heavy metals in high concentrations are found in the exhaust gases, pesticides, rat poisons, cigarette smoke, various paints, solvents. Contact with these substances causes poisoning of the organism.

Also, some heavy metals are used in medicine. They are part of ointments that help with purulent skin lesions. Misuse of these drugs can lead to intoxication.

The clinical picture of poisoning with heavy metals

Different heavy metals affect the body in different ways. The manifestation and severity of symptoms depend on the duration of contact with the poison, the concentrations of heavy metals and age are poisoned.

Please note that children are more susceptible to heavy metals. Poisoning may be caused by minimal levels of these nutrients.

When heavy metal poisoning symptoms may appear immediately or within a few days. Prolonged contact with these substances clinical manifestations develop gradually.

The table below presents the clinical picture of poisoning metals, the symptoms and signs of intoxication different types.

The name of the metal Characteristic symptoms and clinical features of poisoning
Mercury In acute poisoning, signs of intoxication appear during the first 2-3 hours. Symptoms:

  • hyperthermia is where the temperature rises above 39 degrees;
  • headache, dizziness;
  • profuse diarrhea, the stool can be seen the inclusion of mucus and blood;
  • swelling of the gums and mucous membrane of the whole mouth;
  • increased secretion of saliva, lacrimation, sweating;
  • rapid heart rate;
  • frequent and shallow breathing, shortness of breath;
  • loss of consciousness.
Lead Lead intoxication often occurs in the chronic form, and manifested by the following symptoms:

  • memory disorders, amnesia;
  • lethargy, apathy and drowsiness;
  • periodic cramping in specific groups of skeletal muscles;
  • violation of coordination of movements, unsteadiness while walking;
  • chronic pain in the joints, bones, back;
  • morning nausea, periodic vomiting, indigestion;
  • loss of appetite, anorexia, progressive weight loss;
  • chronic constipation;
  • trembling of the hands.
Copper In the case of acute intoxication symptoms develop during the first two days. These include:

  • fever and chills, during which the temperature rises to 39 degrees;
  • headache;
  • dizziness;
  • nausea and repeated vomiting;
  • increased flatulence, feeling stomach ache.
Antimony Poisoning by antimony when the inhalation or accidental ingestion. Characteristic symptoms:

  • dry cough, continuous sneezing, sore throat;
  • the development of acute conjunctivitis, keratitis;
  • the rise in body temperature to 40 degrees, severe chills;
  • feeling the aches in the joints;
  • nausea, vomiting;
  • diarrhea;
  • intestinal colic.
Thallium Thallium is a highly toxic substance for the human body. It can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin. Symptoms of acute poisoning are increasing in the first days after contact with him. These include:

  • nausea and vomiting;
  • diarrhea;
  • flatulence;
  • pain in the abdomen;
  • the feeling of anxiety, worry;
  • cramps throughout the body, similar to epileptic seizures;
  • disturbance of consciousness;
  • hyperemia (redness) of the skin.

What is the danger of chronic intoxication with heavy metals

Poisoning and intoxication by heavy metals leads to damage of many organs and systems. The first to suffer Central nervous system. Many of the changes can be irreversible.

Below are the most common pathology andcomplications of chronic intoxication with heavy metals.

  • Brain damage can manifest violation of memory, convulsions, mental disorders. In children disturbed cognitive development.
  • Toxic hepatitis – liver poisons and toxins. It increases in size, loses its functions. A person may develop yellowing of the skin, pain in the right hypochondrium.
  • Acute liver failure is the most common complication of intoxication with metals. The kidneys lose their ability to purify the blood, urine can be a lot (more than 5 liters per day) or not be entirely.
  • Acute anemia due to hemolysis. When in contact with poisonous substances can develop the breakdown of red blood cells.

First aid and treatment of heavy metal poisoning

When heavy metal poisoning treatment must be carried out by doctors in terms of the toxicology Department. When the first signs of the disease, you should call an ambulance. Before the arrival of doctors need to try yourself to help the patient.

Remember that self-treatment of heavy metal poisoning can lead to death or to the development of permanent disability in the victim.

Components of first aid are listed below.

  • For respiratory poisoning should bring people to the fresh air, not polluted with the vapours of the metals, and give him to drink warm tea or water.
  • If the patient has swallowed a toxic substance should give him a volley to drink a liter of plain water and provoke vomiting. Then you need to drink sorbents (enterosgel, APSCO, activated coal, smektu).
  • If a toxic substance gets on the skin, you should rinse it under running water for 10-15 minutes.

First medical care is provided by physicians at the scene. They administered drugs that regulate the heart and breathing, trying to remove toxicity. After the initial therapy, they transported the victim to hospital where he is undergoing tests and treatment. An important component of treatment is the introduction of an antidote. For example, during intoxication with mercury antidote unitiol acts.

Heavy metal poisoning is very dangerous for humans. Children are most sensitive to these substances. Metal toxicity can be acute or chronic. Treatment of this pathological condition should be carried out in a toxicology Department. Self-treatment is dangerous for human life.