Mercury poisoning is defined as toxicity from ingestion of mercury. It is important to note that mercury is a form of toxic metal that has various forms. The usual cause of poisoning is ingestion of excess methylmercury which is associated to seafood.
Trace amounts of mercury are found in daily foods and products that will not affect health. On the other hand, excess mercury can be poisonous.
Mercury is considered naturally occurring but the amount in the environment continues to rise due to industrialization. The metal can move into soil and water and eventually to various animals including fish.
What are the indications?
Remember the methylmercury is known for its neurological effects. Generally, excess mercury can result to:
- Memory issues
In most cases, mercury poisoning arises over time. Nevertheless, an abrupt onset of any of these symptoms might be an indication of acute toxicity.
Signs of poisoning among adults
Adults who progress to advanced poisoning might end up with:
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty with speech and hearing
- Lack of coordination
- Difficulty walking
- Nerve loss in the face and hands
- Visual changes
Signs of poisoning in infants and children
Mercury poisoning can also disrupt with fetal and early childhood formation. Those who were exposed to elevated levels of mercury might have delays in:
- Fine motor skills
- Visual-spatial awareness
- Speech and language development
Management of mercury poisoning
Even today, there is no available cure for mercury poisoning. The ideal way to manage the condition is to stop exposure. If one ingested large amounts of seafood that contains mercury, stop right away.
In case toxicity is linked to the environment or workplace, certain steps must be taken to transfer the individual away from the site.
If the level of mercury reaches a certain point, the doctor might suggest chelation therapy. The chelating agents work by removing the metal from the organs as well as help the body eliminate them.
In the long run, further treatment is required to manage the effects of mercury poisoning especially the neurological effects.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on mercury poisoning is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the indications and how it is treated, register for a first aid and CPR course with Toronto First Aid.