Thursday, May 16, 2024

Top 5 This Week

Related Posts

Heavy metal poisoning – Symptoms & causes

It is known that heavy metals are elements which are naturally found in the earth. These heavy metals are used in many modern – day applications, such as industry, medicine and agriculture. Also, the body naturally contains some of them. Copper, iron and zinc are necessary for the regular body function, as long as they are not present in toxic amounts.

The heavy metal poisoning is happening when the body’s soft tissues absorb too much of a particular metal. Arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury are the most common metals which the human body can absorb in toxic amounts. You might be exposed to high concentrations of these minerals from the water pollution, air or food, as well as medicine and food containers with improper coating, industrial exposure or lead – based paint. There are some studies in which are noticed that in the United States of America, the heavy metal poisoning is very rare.

It only happens when you have been exposed to a significant amount of heavy metals, usually over a long period of time. The popularity of over – the – counter products which claim to detoxify the body of heavy metals can make it seem more common than it is.

Heavy metal poisoning causes and symptoms

Heavy metal poisoning

The symptoms of the heavy metal poisoning depend on the type of metal which is involved.

General symptoms

The most common symptoms across several types of heavy metal poisoning include [1]:

  • Weakness
  • Chills
  • Tingling in your hands and feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

It is noticed that children who have heavy metal poisoning may have weakened bones or unusually formed bones [2]. Also, pregnant women can have deliver prematurely or a miscarriage.

Metal – specific symptoms

There are certain types of heavy metals which can cause additional symptoms. Here are some symptoms which are linked to some of the most common types:

Mercury poisoning symptoms [3]

  • The symptoms caused by mercury poisoning are next:
  • Trouble walking
  • Vision changes
  • Nerve damage in your hands and face
  • Hearing and speech difficulties
  • Muscle weakness
  • Lack of concentration

Lead poisoning symptoms [4]

The symptoms which are caused by lead poisoning are next:

  • Loss of developmental skills in children
  • Memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Anemia
  • Loss of appetite
  • High blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Sleep problems
  • Aggressive behavior

Arsenic poisoning symptoms [5]

The symptoms of arsenic poisoning include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Unusual heart rhythm
  • Spots on your skin, such as warts or lesions
  • Red or swollen skin
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

Cadmium poisoning symptoms [6]

Here are the most common symptoms of the cadmium poisoning:

  • Muscle pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Fever

Causes of heavy metal poisoning

It is known that heavy metals can enter the body in many different ways. You may consume them in the food which you eat or absorb them through the skin. Below are given ways how you can be exposed to different heavy metals. You should remember that heavy metal poisoning is happening with heavy or frequent exposure, usually over long period of a time. The occasional exposure to heavy metals will not lead to heavy metal poisoning.

Arsenic poisoning causes

You can get arsenic poisoning through:

  • Drinking contaminated water [7]
  • Eating contaminated seafood or algae
  • Ingesting insecticides, pesticides, or herbicides
  • Living in the area that has high levels in rocks, water, and soil
  • Working near a hazardous waste site

Cadmium poisoning causes

You can get cadmium poisoning through:

  • Inhaling cigarette smoking [8]
  • Welding on alloys that contain cadmium or using silver solders
  • Working in an industrial setting, especially one where ore is processed or smelted

Lead poisoning causes

You can get lead poisoning through:

  • Using foreign digestive remedies, calcium products, kohl, surma, kajal, or progressive hair dyes
  • Applying progressive hair dyes [9]
  • Using kohl cosmetics
  • Being in firing ranges
  • Doing industrial construction work, radiator repair or smelter options
  • Living in a home with high levels of lead – based paint

Mercury poisoning causes

You can get mercury poisoning through [10]:

  • Manufacturing mirrors, X – ray machines, incandescent lights or vacuum pumps
  • Consuming contaminated fish or water
  • Mining and refining gold and silver ores
  • Mining, producing, or transporting mercury


[1] Jaishankar M, Tseten T, Anbalagan N, et al. Toxicity, mechanism and health effects of some heavy metals. Interdisciplinary Toxicology. 2014;7(2):60–72. doi:10.2478/intox-2014-0009

[2] Sughis M, Penders J, Haufroid V, et al. Bone resorption and environmental exposure to cadmium in children: a cross – sectional study. Environmental Health. 2011;10.

[3] Ekinci M, Ceylan E, Keles S, et al. Toxic effects of chronic mercury exposure on the retinal nerve fiber layer and macular and choroidal thickness in industrial mercury battery workers. Medical Science Monitor. 2014;20:1284–90. doi:10.12659/MSM.890756

[4] Canfield RL, Jusko TA, Kordas K. Environmental lead exposure and children’s cognitive function. Rivista Italiana di Pediatria. 2005;31(6):293–300.

[5] Mumford JL, Wu K, Xia Y, et al. Chronic arsenic exposure and cardiac repolarization abnormalities with QT interval prolongation in a population-based study. Environmental Health Perspective. 2007;115(5):690–4.

[6] Genchi G, Sinicropi MS, Lauria G, et al. The effects of cadmium toxicity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020;17(11):3782. doi:10.3390/ijerph17113782

[7] Shankar S, Shanker U, Shikha. Arsenic contamination of groundwater: A review of sources, prevalence, health risks, and strategies for mitigation. The Scientific World Journal. 2014.

[8] Ganguly K, Levanen B, Palmberg L, et al. Cadmium in tobacco smokers: a neglected link to lung disease? European Respiratory Review. 2018;27:170122. doi:10.1183/16000617.0122-2017

[9] Sampathkumar K, Yesudas S. Hair dye poisoning and the developing world. Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock. 2009;2(2):129–31. doi:10.4103/0974-2700.50749

[10] Afrifa J, Opoku YK, Gyamerah EO, et al. The clinical importance of the mercury problem in artisanal small-scale gold mining. Frontiers in Public Health. 2019;7:131. doi:10.3389/fpubh.2019.00131

Ramesh Kumar
Ramesh Kumar
Dr. Ramesh kumar, BAMS is naturopathy doctor who is well versed with health benefits of all fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Popular Articles